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Cheesy Sausage & Beer Bread {Bread Baking Buddies}

I tend to fall madly in love with freshly baked loaves of bread.  I have a problem.  I admit it.  I can't resist.  There's just something so natural about that heady scent escaping through the oven vents to gently blanket the entire house.

If the windows are open?  Fuggedaboutit.  The neighbors will suddenly remember to return that rake they borrowed last Autumn.  Or the cup of sugar they never "paid back".  You may even see ladders being propped up against the sides of houses and a concerted effort to retrieve small balls, misdirected boomerangs, and sun-faded action figures that have been languoring in gutters for years but suddenly need to be returned to you.

Add some dark beer florid with malt and hops.  Perhaps some sharp, tangy cheese.  Go ahead, throw in your favorite sausage.  And a smattering of fennel seeds if you're so inclined.  I was so inclined.  Put 'em all together.  Slide 'em into the oven.  And THROW OPEN YOUR WINDOWS!   Do it.  Throw 'em.  And go tidy up the living room.  You're about to get some visitors.
Cheesy Beer & Sausage Bread
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: overnight
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Keywords: bread cheese beer sausage

Ingredients (2 loaves)
    the night before:
    • 1¼ c. bread flour
    • ¾ c. water, lukewarm
    • ¼ tsp. instant yeast
    the day of:
    • 1 (12 oz.) bottle beer (your choice, at room temp.)
    • ¼ c. olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
    • 4 tsp. instant yeast
    • 1½ tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼ c. sugar
    • 4 - 4½ c. bread flour
    • ~8-12 oz. bulk sausage (your choice)
    • 1 Tbs. fennel seeds, optional
    • 8-12 oz. Monterey Jack and/or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated/shredded
    • cornmeal, for baking sheet
    the night before:
    Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight. I just put mine into the oven (turned off).

    the day of (finishing the bread):
    Add the beer, olive oil, dried onion flakes, yeast, salt, pepper, sugar, and 1 cup of the bread flour to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together using a wooden spoon until well combined. Fair warning: THIS MIXTURE SMELLS SO GOOD - BEER AND ONIONS!

    Mix in another cup or so of the flour at a time until you are able to touch it without getting your hands stuck (in other'll be sticky at first). Flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead for ~8 minutes, adding in more of the flour as needed, until your dough is still soft, but not sticky (just a bit tacky). Place into an oiled boil and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, ~1 hour.

    While the dough is rising, cook your sausage until golden and cooked through. Add fennel seeds, if using, during the last minute or so of cooking time, just to release some of the oils. Drain any grease from mixture and set aside to cool.

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Add the cooked sausage and fennel mixture and half of the cheese. Fold the dough into thirds and then flatten it a bit. Fold into thirds the other way and flatten a bit. Repeat a few times until the ingredients are incorporated. (Alternately, Knead gently until everything is incorporated. Whichever way works for you.) Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

    Divide dough in half and form each half into a round or ovular shape. Place onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal. Cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 350° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.
    Score each loaf (with sharp knife or blade) about 1" deep. Divide the remaining cheese in half and sprinkle over the loaves.

    Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 180°-190° F. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

    adapted from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies ...originally from Cooking Bread and The Knead for Bread.

    thoughts: Soft, yet chewy. Malty from the beer. Oniony. Awesome bursts of sausage, fennel, and cheese. Addictive. Mine was top-heavy from all of the cheese I put on top...perhaps go for lower amount (gasp!)?
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    I am sharing this post with:
    Bread Baking Buddies (in conjunction w/ Bread Baking Babes) host Natashya
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