Sunday, March 1, 2009

Romano Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls

My great-grandmother (Grandmom Julie) used to make cheese bread every Easter. She would mix mounds of flour with piles of freshly grated Romano cheese right on the table top, adding the wet ingredients into a little well in the center. When she baked the big circular loaves, the entire house filled with a cheesy aroma. My favorite part of Easter was going to her house for a slice of cheese bread and a hard boiled egg (died the strangest colors, colors I don't think could come from the packet of food die.) My mom has tried to make it a few times since she passed away, but it is hard to replicate. Maybe her table top doesn't have the same seasoning effect.

I haven't tried to make Grandmom Julie's cheese bread yet, but when I bit into these rolls, they instantly reminded me of it. These rolls are light and airy (where Grandmom Julie's cheese bread was dense). The cheese flavor is also a little more subdued in these rolls, although I suppose you could amp it up by adding more cheese. I usually only make rolls or bread when we have company coming for dinner--because I'm afraid I'll eat the entire batch myself if I make it otherwise--but these are so wonderful, I might start making a half batch for myself every week.

Romano Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls
Adapted from Gourmet, February 2009

The original recipe calls for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but I prefer Romano. Asiago or another strong, hard cheese would probably also work.

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. honey (or sugar)
2/3 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees), divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tbsp. for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups finely grated Romano cheese (1 1/3 oz.)
1 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
5 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbs. pieces and softened
1 tbs. water

-Stir together honey and 1/3 cup of warm milk in a the bowl of a stand mixer, and sprinkle yeast on top. Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. If the yeast doesn't foam, dump it out and start over with new yeast.
-Whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, cheese, and salt. With mixer on low, add flour mixture to yeast mixture along with the remaining 1/3 cup milk.
-Increase mixer speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Beat, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes.
-Beat in butter, one tbs. at a time. Beat until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)
-Scrape dough into center of bowl, sprinkle with remaining 2 tbs. flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at warm room temperature intil doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
-Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion.
-Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9 inch cake pan or spring form pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth), and let dough rise until doubled in size and dough fills pan, 1 to 1/2 hours.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle.
-Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on top of rolls. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
-Cool rolls on a rack at least 20 minutes.

Notes: Rolls are best fresh out of the oven. They can be frozen for up to one month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in 350 degree oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes. (I didn't try this myself, but Gourmet says it will work.)


Donna-FFW said...

These look absolutely FANTASTIC! Just stumbled upon your site and I love your log. So much good stuff here. Glad I found you!

Michele said...

Wow! These look so good! I'm also a lover of Romano. I use that cheese for everything!

muddywaters said...

This bread would make a lot of people in my household happy. I'll need to give it a shot the next time we have Italian food.