Head Cheese…

One of my favorite quotes isn’t from someone famous, although as of late I’m rather found of “WINNING” (thank you Mr. Sheen for going off the deep end). It’s not from some indie rock group. It’s not from way back when. It is from my freshman year of college. I was sitting in my Basic 3D Design class, where we made 99% of our projects out of cardboard, when I heard the words that I now live my life by. These nine little words were uttered by a fellow art student. What were these magical words you ask? “A life without cheese, is no life at all.” Time after time, since hearing these words, they’ve held true.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me; I’m almost as obsessive over cheese as I am over bread. I don’t like those “cheese” slices that come individually warped. I, frankly, don’t even believe that to be cheese. Nor do I like bags of pre-shredded cheese; there’s nothing better than freshly shredded cheese. So what’s the cheese I eat you ask? Well, nothing but the best Tillamook loaves are in our fridge.

I do have to admit, I am a bit ridiculous about Oregon brand loyalty, but I really can’t help it. When you’re somewhere that seems so distant from the place you call home, anything that reminds you of home naturally should be celebrated. Well, in our house we celebrate Tillamook cheese almost on a daily basis.

Before the first of the year, all we could get at our grocer was your standard Swiss, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack, and Cheddar. Well one day we stepped into the dairy section and something magical happened. The angels sang with the highest glory. What was going on? There were NEW CHEESES!!!! Glorious, glorious baby loaves of Garlic Chill Pepper Cheddar, Hot Habanero Jack, Garlic White Cheddar, and, my new favorite of all time, Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar Cheese!

Now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve gone on and on about cheese when my blog is about baking, well calm down, I’m getting to it! I thought to myself, “what is the one thing that could possibly make bread better?”. The simple answer is and always will be CHEESE. And I thought that the black pepper cheddar would work extremely well. I modeled my first try of a cheesy bread after a polenta variation in Tartine.

I made the polenta as instructed, and added quite a bit of SHREDDED cheese. What could possibly go wrong? I added so much cheese that I was certain that I was going to get the result that I wanted. Not just certain, but positive. I added the cheese and polenta during the second “turn” of the dough and let it ferment and baked it like normal.

Sadly, when I cut into the loaf it was far from what I expected. Not only could you not see the cheese, you couldn’t even taste it! You couldn’t even taste the pepper in the cheese! It was like some mysterious oven gnomes stole all the cheese out of my bread. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.

After talking to a fellow foodie and North Westerner about my misadventure, she suggested cubing the cheese before adding it. WHY HADN’T I THOUGHT OF THAT?! So, following her sage advice, I cubed my cheese. I then did like all other loaves, added it after the second “turn” of the dough.

I was so anxious while this bread was fermenting and baking. I was so worried that something would go wrong, or worse, the cheese would just disappear again! Well, as it turns out, there was nothing to worry about. This bread didn’t have craters this bread had cave dwellings! The cheese, in cubed form, made the most wonderful holes. I did my best to contain my excitement, but after my fist bite I think I might have blacked out cause I don’t remember much.

2 Responses to “Head Cheese…”
  1. Faith says:

    Your breads are so beautiful!!! I’m glad you get Tillamook down there! I don’t know what I would do without that and I bet the bread would be AMAZING with the garlic white cheddar (my fav!).

  2. Thank you so much! When we were in Maryland we couldn’t find Tiallmook and I felt a bit lost.

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