Suddenly it’s November, and temperatures are dropping all around the Northern Hemisphere. When the going gets cold, there’s nothing like a toasted, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth grilled cheese sandwich to warm your blood. This morning, as Carolyn and I awoke to a blustery fall day here in Baltimore, this very thought occurred to us, so we decided we make some grilled cheese. We were not disappointed. Here’s how we did it:
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet active dry yeast)
2/3 cups regular dried milk
2 tablespoons soft butter (or vegetable oil)
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
Step 1: Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl. Add and dissolve honey and yeast.
Step 2: When the yeast is bubbling, add butter, 3 cups flour, dry milk, and salt. Mix together.
Step 3: Stir in another 2 1/2 cups flour, keeping the last 1/2 cup in reserve. Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to behave as if it belongs together. Cover and let dough rest.
Step 4: Continue kneading for 3 or 4 more minutes, until dough feels smooth and springy. Use up to 1/2 cup of reserved flour, if necessary, to keep dough from sticking to the kneading surface.
Step 5: Place dough in a greased bowl, turn it over to coat all sides, and cover the bowl. Let rise in a draft-free place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Deflate dough, and divide it into half. Form into loaves and place in greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough domes an inch above the rim of the pans.
Step 6: After dough has been rising for 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the loaves are sufficiently risen, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven, tip the loaves out, and place them on a rack to cool before slicing.
The Grilled Cheese
Bread (the stuff you just made)
Making grilled cheese is much more free-form than baking bread, so I won’t offer step-by-step instructions, except to say that the key to good grilled cheese is butter–lots and lots of butter. Start with a griddle–the best way to make grilled cheese is on a griddle–and pop it on your stovetop over medium heat. (If you don’t have a griddle, use a frying pan.) When the griddle/frying pan is warm, throw a pat or two of butter on there and spread it around as it melts (remember, you can’t have too much butter). Then butter the outsides of your sandwich, enough so that when you eat it, you have to wash your hands two or three times to get the grease off. Then toss the buttered bread on the griddle and quickly spread some sliced cheese on top. Then pop another piece of bread on top of the already-cheesed slice of bread. Then let it cook, and after a couple minutes, flip the whole thing upside down. Do this until your grilled cheese is a pleasant brown-gold color.
Then dig in!