I caved. But I caved with purpose. I ended my three week baking strike last weekend. It had to be done. One of my most favorite boys was hosting an Easter brunch and I couldn’t show up empty handed.
Instead I came prepared to take down a few bloody marys and armed with raspberry crumble bars and x bread.
X bread – don’t you like the sound of that? Kind of mysterious, a little provocative, right? I think the x is actually short for experimental, as in experimental bread no. 7, the other title of this bread. X bread is a Cheese Board specialty. Mmmmm, Cheese Board (this is the kind of response you’ll elicit when you mention the Cheese Board to any of their many adoring patrons). The Cheese Board is a Berkeley institution. It’s part cheese shop, part bakery and part pizzeria. The line for pizza is always out the door, but don’t let that discourage you, it moves quickly. The last time I was there I left with a slice of caramelized onion and mushroom pizza, two scones, and x bread.
X bread is a three-cheese bread roll. It’s a Ricotta-based dough that envelops hunks of Cheddar, fresh jalapenos and scallions, and finished with a sprinkle of Parmesan. It has a tender crumb and a richness from the Ricotta and butter in the dough and the pockets of melted cheddar throughout the bread are killer. There’s also a nice hint of sweetness that sets it apart from your typical savory bread. I think it’s my favorite cheese bread ever. It might become yours, too.
adapted from The Cheese Board Collective Works by the Cheese Board Collective
makes 12 rolls
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cups warm water
4 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
2 large jalapeno chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts, chopped
1 pound Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and whisk until dissolved. Cover with plastic and let stand for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 4 cups flour, sugar and salt.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 4 minutes, or until it is the size of small peas. Add the yeast mixture, Ricotta cheese, and eggs. Mix on low until combined, about 2 minutes. Switch to the dough hook, increase the speed to medium, and knead for 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, silky, and elastic. In a small bowl, toss the jalapenos and green onions with 1 tablespoon of flour. Add the mixture to the dough and continue to knead on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. If the dough becomes too wet from the vegetables, add a tablespoon or more of flour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Flatten it into a 1-inch thick round and place the cheddar cheese in the center. Gather the dough around the cheese and knead just until the cheese is evenly distributed, taking care not to break it up.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1-1/4 hours, or until doubled in size.
Lightly dust 2 baking sheets with flour. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 pieces. Cover with a floured kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape each piece into a small round and place on the prepared pans at least 3 inches apart. Gently flatten the rolls with the palm of your hand. Cover with a floured kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into the dough leaves an impression.
Fifteen minutes before the rolls have finished rising, arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake 15 minutes longer, for a total of 30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden on the top and bottom. Transfer to a wire rack. While still hot, brush the rolls with olive oil and sprinkle them with Parmesan. Let cool.
Enjoy warm or at room temperature.