I created this braded garlic cheese bread recipe for a Dutch oven cooking competition a few years back. To be honest, my family isn’t too happy with me if I make any other bread besides this one. Yeah, it’s that good. I’ve tried this in a conventional oven, but it just doesn’t work out so well. I can control the heat in a Dutch oven in ways that can’t be done with any other type of cooking and that’s critical for this recipe. So without further ado, here is the recipe:
Ingredients for the bread:
- 2 pkgs. Active dry yeast (not the rapid rise variety)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 cups lukewarm milk
- ¾ cup butter – softened
- 2 eggs – beaten
- ¾ cup sugar
- 8 to 9 cups flour
- 4 tsp. salt
Ingredients for the butter/cheese spread:
- ½ lb. butter – softened
- 1 ½ cups (plus 2 Tbs. used separately) shredded Parmesan cheese
- Seasoning salt to taste (approx. ½ tsp.)
- Garlic powder to taste
- Oregano flakes to taste
In lukewarm water, pour in yeast and one tsp. of sugar. Let yeast proof for about 10 minutes. Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt and mix together. Add in the yeast mixture and beaten eggs. Add in flour, mix well until the dough is soft. Place the dough in a large bowl (spray the bowl with cooking spray first). Let the dough rise until double in size (about 1 hour). Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into three even pieces. Roll each piece by hand into long “ropes”. Braid the dough (like you would long hair). Place the dough into a 14” deep Dutch oven in a circle (see below). You may want to lightly oil the inside of the oven prior placing the dough in it so the bread will come out easily.
Combine all of the butter/cheese spread ingredients together – mix well. Spread the mixture over the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbs. of shredded Parmesan cheese evenly across the top of the butter/cheese mixture. Sprinkle additional oregano over the top. Let rise another 20 minutes or so. The dough will roughly double in size.
Bake at 350° for one hour using mostly top heat. Circle the bottom coals to be just inside the outer edge of the bottom of the oven. Place the remaining coals on top, ringing the outer edge of the lid, placing 5 coals evenly around the inner area of the lid. Make sure to rotate the lid one quarter turn every 15 minutes and the bottom on quarter turn the opposite direction every 15 minutes as well. Remove the Dutch oven from the bottom coals for the last 15 minutes of cooking time. Time to eat!