Ricotta Herb Bread

Happy Birthday America, you get some…bread?  Ok, so maybe I’m not the most patriotic person in the world, but hey, if someone gave me a loaf of bread on my birthday, I’d be absolutely thrilled.

How about a cute bunny photo?  Sorry I can’t post the one of Izzy surfing on my back, my new card reader has yet to arrive.

Back to bread.  I don’t think I’ve met a bread I didn’t like, except for seeded rye.  Caraway seeds are the devil.

I always end up buying a big container of ricotta when it goes on sale, and then it sits in the back of the fridge until I have lined up enough recipes to use it up within two weeks.  I am not the kind of person to eat ricotta straight up with a spoon, or try to convince the soon-to-be hubby that bruschetta is totally a legitimate dinner.

So once that container’s open, it’s up to me to find ways to essentially conceal its inclusion in our food so Luke will still eat it.  I got super lucky with the gnocchi.  He ate it, and actually thought it was decent, despite the fact that it contained sweet potatoes and ricotta.  Score.

Back to bread.  Bread is innocuous.  It’s innocent; I mean who doesn’t like bread?  No one has to know there’s ricotta in it, unless that’s a selling point for you, as it is for me.

The ricotta makes this bread nice and soft, while the fresh herbs scattered throughout the dough add a touch of extra flavor that really goes a long way.  Have a Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  We can’t wait until next year, when we can host a party of our own at our house!!!

Ricotta Herb Bread

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Makes one round loaf

¼ cup milk, heated to about 115 degrees F

1 package active dry yeast

½ Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, divided use

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground pepper

½ cup snipped fresh herbs (I used a mix of thyme, parsley, sage and oregano)

2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Pour the milk into a large bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Beat the butter, ricotta, 1 egg and salt into the yeast mixture with a whisk; then whisk in the pepper and herbs.  Stir in enough of the flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a soft dough form.  Knead on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Punch the dough down and shape it into a rough circular loaf.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, cover with the towel, and let rise again for about 45 minutes.  Near the end of its rise, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut three long strokes in the dough with a sharp knife.  Whisk the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp water, and use this mixture to brush the loaf all over.  Bake until the loaf is nicely browned, about 45-50 minutes.  I added some grated Parmesan on top at about the 30 minute mark.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack, then slice and serve!

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