The Yankee Chef: Holiday bread pots

What a great idea for the holiday dinner tables. Tie a ribbon around each and place in front of each setting at the table. Not only will it garner attention and gratitude, but your guests will have a keepsake to take home.

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 envelope dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
12 slices of cured beef, small dice*
6 thin slices Provolone cheese, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme
6 small terra cotta pots, about a 2-cup volume
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for the top

Heat milk until it is about body temperature, sprinkling yeast over the top. Let sit for 10 to soften.

In a standing mixer, or you can use your hands if you like, secure a hook attachment. In the bowl, add the flour, milk/yeast mixture, eggs, salt, pepper, maple syrup and melted butter. Mix on low until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add beef, Provolone cheese and thyme. Continue mixing on low until the dough is leaving the sides of the mixing bowl, about 6-7 minutes.

If the dough is still too sticky and is not leaving the sides, add a scant 1/2 cup flour and continue mixing.

Remove paddle and cover dough with a damp cloth or paper towels to rise until double in bulk, about an hour. Line all pots with squares of parchment paper, leaving a little rising up from the sides.

Push down dough and transfer to lightly floured work surface. Knead for 1 minute before dividing the dough into 6 balls. Lay a ball in each pot, cover with damp cloth or paper towel and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 325-degrees F. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle the top with equal amounts of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch before serving.


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