Bertha Whitmire of Kelso, Wash., requested a recipe for Cheddar Cheese Bread. She wrote that she had tasted a slice of the bread at a senior potluck dinner in Longview, Wash. "I tried to find out who made it," she said, "but to no avail."
Pam Simon of Laurel came to the rescue with a recipe from Bernard Clayton's "New Complete Book of Breads." "I make it frequently for gift giving, and it always gets rave reviews," she said.
Cheddar Cheese Bread
Makes 2 medium loaves
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
12 ounces (3 cups) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
1 package dry yeast
In a saucepan, heat the water to scalding (but barely) over low heat and stir in the sugar, salt, butter, dry milk and 2 cups (8 ounces) cheese. Remove from heat and stir until the butter and cheese are melted. Set aside to cool sufficiently so that you can test the water comfortably with a finger (120 degrees).
In a mixing or mixer bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, the cheese mixture and yeast. With an electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, or 150 strong strokes with a wooden spoon. When the batter is smooth, add the remaining cheese.
Add the additional flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon and then by hand until the dough is roughly formed and leaves the sides of the bowl. If it is wet or slack, add additional small portions of flour. Use the dough hook in the mixer.
If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If under a dough hook, knead for 6 or 8 minutes in the mixer bowl.
(The whole process also can be done in a food processor fitted with a plastic blade. Pulse the machine to combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, the cheese mixture and the yeast. Add the additional cheese and flour, 1/2 cup at a time, processing after each addition, until the dough is no longer wet but soft and slightly sticky. Process until the dough forms a ball and let the ball spin on the blade for 50 seconds to knead.)
Place the dough in a bowl (it need not be greased because of the butterfat in the dough) and cover with plastic wrap drawn tightly over the bowl. Let sit in a warm place (80 degrees-100 degrees) until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. (If prepared with a new fast-rising yeast and at the recommended higher temperatures, reduce rising times by approximately half.)
Remove the plastic wrap and turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Flatten the dough pieces with your palms, fold in half, pinch the seams together, turn the seams under and plump the loaves to fit into 2 greased 8 1/2-inch-by-4 1/2-inch baking pans.
Cover the pans with waxed paper or cloth and return to a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. It will rise about 1 inch above the edge of the pans.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees 20 minutes before baking. Place the bread in the oven and bake until a cake-testing pin inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean and dry, 45 minutes. This loaf browns easily, so watch it closely after 30 minutes. If necessary, cover with foil or brown paper to keep it from scorching. (If using a convection oven, no preheating is necessary. Reduce heat 50 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. Don't let the loaves become too brown.)
Remove the bread from the oven. Turn the loaves out of their pans and leave on a metal rack to cool before slicing. It is outstanding toasted. Cut the slices thin -- no more than 1/2-inch thick.
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "Surprising, given the large amount of cheese in the recipe, these loaves are just faintly Cheddar-flavored. The dairy (butter and dry milk) in the dough gives the final bread a soft, supple texture and a thin, soft crust. The dough can also be rolled out and fitted into baguette pans for nice dinner bread, but the loaf pans work nicely if you want to make sandwich or toasting bread. I would add 1 extra teaspoon of salt to the 2 teaspoons listed. The final bread seemed slightly under-salted."
Grace Hanson of Rapid City, S.D., wants a recipe for White Castle Steamburgers and crisp watermelon pickles.
Kathy Godwin, who didn't include an address, is seeking a recipe for Lots of Trouble cookies, which are made with ground oatmeal and chunks of chocolate or chocolate chips. She said the recipe was in Home Life magazine several years ago. "They were superb," she wrote.
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.