Ham and swiss is a classic combination for a sandwich, but how about incorporating ham and swiss into the bread intself, rather than just sandwiching it between slices? A surplus of ham leftover from Easter dinner gave me the perfect excuse to try out this combination in a loaf. And much as I expected, it worked beautifully.
The bread is moist, tender and slightly sweet. It has a fluffy crumb that makes the bread quite filling – even if it weren’t packed with cheese and ham, both of which are nicely contrasted with the sweetness of the bread. An egg wash is applied just before baking to give the top of the loaf a beautiful golden finish and a soft crust.
The bread is baked in an 8×8-inch (1 1/2 quart) baking pan, rather than being baked in a traditional loaf pan or shaped into a free form loaf. One of the reasons for this is that this is what is known as a “batter bread,” or a bread that has no rising and shaping step to it. The dough is mixed, poured into the baking dish (often in a fairly sticky state, unlike most shaped bread doughs) and rises there before being popped into the oven. Aside from the mixing, this type of bread takes almost no time at all to make.
Because of the unusual shape of the finished loaf, this probably won’t make great sandwich bread (unless you want long, narrow sandwiches), but it does pair extremely well with egg dishes and soups, as well as making a fairly hearty snack. I recommend cutting it into dinner roll-sized chunks for serving.
Ham and Swiss Bread
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast (approx. .5oz)
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups milk (low fat is fine), warm (approx 100-110F)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
4 1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup swiss cheese, in 1/4 in. cubes
1 cup diced ham
1 large egg, for egg wash
Lightly grease and 8″x8″ baking pan or a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish (I used pyrex) with butter or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm milk. Stir and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until slightly foamy.
Stir in salt, melted butter and 4 cups of all purpose flour. Add remaining flour gradually until dough is sticky and smooth, but no longer liquidy. No streaks of flour should remain. Stir in cheese and ham and scrape dough into prepared pan.
Let rise for 1 hour. Lightly beat egg with a fork in a small bowl and brush on top of loaf.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Bake for 42-46 minutes, until an instant read/meat thermometer inserted into the center of the bread (insert through the side, not the top) reads 200F, or until dark gold.
Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Makes 1 large loaf.