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Golden Cheese Wreath

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This bright-gold loaf tastes subtly of cheese. (With the amount of cheese, you'd expect the flavor would be strong, but it just isn't; cheese flavor powder seems to heighten the flavor of the fresh cheeses.) Besides flavor, the cheese has a wonderful tenderizing effect on the bread — it's almost brioche-like in consistency, very easy on both tooth and tongue. Cut this bread in wedges and serve it with all manner of soups; toasting it a bit will bring out the flavor even more.

At a glance

Prep
Bake
Total
Yield
1 large loaf, about 20 servings

Ingredients

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Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to form a smooth and supple dough.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. After 30 minutes, gently fold the dough in upon itself and turn it upside-down; this "turn" helps eliminate some of the excess carbon dioxide and redistributes the yeast's food, both imperative for optimum yeast growth.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 28" long rope.
  4. Braid the ropes loosely, trying not to stretch the dough. Form the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together.
  5. Cover it lightly, and let it rise for 1 to 1 3/4 hours, until it's almost doubled in bulk and puffy looking. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.
  6. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 24 to 26 minutes, until it's an even light golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it for several hours before slicing.
  9. Store, well-wrapped, for 4 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months.