This is a delicious savory bread that's great with some soft goat cheese or a fried egg. The bread has a nice tight crumb that makes it perfect for creamy or liquid-y toppings (like the egg yolk in an over-easy egg). I especially liked it toasted. The dill flavor is subtle but tasty, so feel free to add more if you want a more assertive taste from the dill. Or, you could substitute another fresh herb such as chives. You might also try this with a soft cheese with a more assertive flavor than ricotta; while ricotta made a very tasty loaf, I didn't think it tasted "different" enough from a regular bread to justify the cost of the ricotta cheese.
The technique is an interesting one, pretty much the same as the Rolled Oat and Apple Bread that I posted about a while ago (and from the same cookbook). It's definitely a nice one if you don't have a mixer because it's almost no-knead, and the dough itself is wonderful to work with for the small amount of kneading that there is--nice and soft but not too wet. The recipe also calls for whole-milk cheese, but I couldn't for the life of me find whole-milk ricotta at the store. Does no one eat whole milk dairy anymore?! I had the same problem with finding normal, plain, unflavored, whole-milk yogurt in a non-enormous container the other day. Boo. But, the low-fat variety seemed to work out fine.
Dilly Ricotta Bread (adapted from The Art of Handmade Bread by Dan Leopard)
1 1/4 cups (300 g) water at 68 degrees
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 c (125 g) ricotta cheese
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (250 g) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping T very finely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp olive or vegetable oil
1. In a bowl or pitcher, beat together the water and yeast. Wait for the yeast to get bubbly, and then stir in the ricotta cheese. In a large bowl, combine the two flours, salt, and dill. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir to form a soft, sticky dough.
2. Rub 1 tsp oil on the work surface (I used a big cutting board) and knead the dough 10 seconds, ending with the dough in a smooth, round ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and leave for 10 minutes. Remove and knead once more on the oiled surface, returning the shape to a smooth, round ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover, and leave 1 hour in a warm place.
3. Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Shape the loaf into a baton and lower it neatly into the prepared pan. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until almost doubled in height.
4. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Dust the top of the loaf with flour and bake 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a shiny dark brown and the loaf has come away from the sides of the pan. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.Check out other awesome yeast-y goodies at YeastSpotting (round-up posted every Friday).