Bread. Oh, how I love thee. It’s no secret that I love bread – I could write a whole dissertation on how much I love it. In fact, it makes me weak in the knees. A good, fresh-from-the-oven loaf is the one thing that I cannot resist under any circumstances. I also love cheese. Combine cheese and bread, and for me, you have a winning combination every time. I also love, love, love a ham and cheese panini (brings me back to our traveling days in Switzerland). So why not incorporate gooey cheese and ham marbled into an easy loaf of bread and call it dinner (or lunch or even breakfast!)? Hmmm…
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, cubed (Note: If you prefer yours less cheesy, feel free to add less cheese. Also feel free to substitute with swiss cheese.)
1 cup ham, cubed (from the deli section of your grocery store – ask them to skip the slicing), cubed (Note: If you have trouble finding a good ham, you can always turn tot he deli section of your grocery store. Ask them to give you about 1/3 to 1/2 pound of boneless ham and skip the slicing. I suppose leftover Thanksgiving turkey could also be a good alternative.)
4.5 cups all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1.5 T active dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 tsp salt
2 T butter
1 egg, lightly beaten as an egg wash
- Melt the butter and set aside until slightly cooled.
- Combine sugar, yeast and milk in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes.
- Lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.
- To the bowl, add salt, butter and flour. Stir until everything is combined and the dough is sticky (you may need to adjust the flour by 1/2 cup in either direction, so it’s best to add the flour in gradually.)
- Add ham and cheese and lightly stir.
- Transfer the sticky dough into the pan and allow it to rise for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush the top of the bread with the egg wash.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the bread is no longer doughy in the center. The outside should be a dark golden color.
- If you can wait that long (I can’t), cool the bread completely. Sometimes I speed up the cooling process by filling a pan with about 1/2 inch of cold water, and then placing the almost cooled bread pan on top (be careful not to allow any water into the bread pan).
- Slice any which way you please. I usually cut it into squares since it can be a bit crumbly, but slices are just fine as well.
- Serve with jam, jelly, cranberry sauce or (my favorite) guava paste for a sweet snack. For lunch or dinner, serve alongside a soup. For breakfast or brunch, serve with eggs.