Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zucchini Cheese Loaf

My Pullman Loaf pans have been sitting at the back of the kitchen drawer for a very long time. About a year, actually. Both of them, untouched, for a year. I bought them about two years ago when my colleague Jane and I started a sandwich enterprise — which we called Crazy Juliet — making sandwiches for sale at our workplace. I say 'enterprise' and not business since we were both more concerned with concocting new sandwich recipes rather than making money. We kinda called it quits after a year and a bit when the job became a little too routine and a little less fun. We did make some money from it... i think.

See? I told you we were so NOT businesswomen.

So anyway, the enterprise ended, the pans went at the back of the drawer and that was it for a year. Until yesterday when I felt the urge to play around with sandwich fillings once more. And for that, I had to first make the bread for the sandwiches.

What are Pullman loaf pans?

The Pullman Loaf Pan
They're narrow pans, about a foot or so long, with a slide-on lid and they're used to make Pullman loaves or as we all call them, sandwich loaves. The pans allow the bread to rise evenly into a rectangle, allowing you to slice even, square slices of bread for sandwich making. Mine were inexpensive and made from aluminum and they look pretty beaten up, but I love them all the same.

Yesterday, I felt like experimenting a little with the bread. Instead of a plain white or wholemeal loaf, I decided on a flavoured loaf.  I'd tried Jamie Oliver's recipe for zucchini bread (not a quick bread but a proper, yeasted bread) some time back and I vaguely recall what goes into it. I decided to take a chance and incorporate his ideas into this zucchini and cheese loaf.

The zucchini is grated fine and added to the flour, yeast, sugar and salt at the very start of the process. Because the zucchini is full of water, I had to be very careful with the water added to make the bread dough. Usually, for 500g bread flour, I use about 315 ml water. This time, I added 100ml water first with the intent to add more as needed once the dough came together. As it turned out, I didn't need to add much more, maybe just another 30 to 50 ml.

I also added some cheese when kneading the dough. I remember Jamie Oliver used goats cheese but I only had cheddar and mozzarella and so I used a bit of both.

Oh, and thyme too.

Unlike the dough of a typical Pullman or sandwich loaf, this one was a little wet and sticky. The zucchini obviously added extra hydration to the dough and even with reducing the water for the recipe, the dough remained wet.

This is by no means a problem. All it meant was the kneading process would be a little more messy: wet or grease your hands when kneading to avoid too much dough sticking to your hands. Or, you could flour your hands and the surface though you may end up using a lot of flour and thereby changing the consistency of the dough.

Also, the wet dough resulted in a loaf that wasn't as dense. Which was nice, really. It held together enough to use it for a sandwich but it was also light enough to eat with just a spread: I slathered some cream cheese onto a slice and it was divine. Hummus worked well too.

Zucchini and Cheese Loaf
500g bread flour (a little more on standby)
3 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
100-150 ml tepid water
2 large zucchinis, shredded/grated fine
1/2 cup cheese, grated
a tbsp thyme, leaves only

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a bowl. For a well in the centre and add 1/3 of the water along with the thyme and zucchini. Starting from the middle, stir the flour into the wet mixture with a fork, gradually bringing in more flour into the well. The dough will start to look stodgy, like porridge. Add more water and continue to bring in more flour. Once the dough comes together — it will be wet and sticky still, wet, grease or flour your hands and start kneading: fold the dough, stretch and fold again. Pick it up and slam it on the counter (floured or greased counter top, please). Repeat until you get a silky, elastic dough. Still sticky: about 15 mins.

Grease a bowl and tip the dough into the bowl, making sure all sides of the dough is oiled. Cover and leave to rise for about an hour or till it doubles.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down lightly with your knuckles and gently knead the cheese in. Shape the dough and gently lower it into the Pullman pan. You can also use a basic loaf pan or shape the dough into a round and place it on a greased baking sheet.

Allow it to proof for another 30 mins and preheat the oven to 180C.

Bake for 30 − 40 mins or till the top gets crusty and the loaf sound hollow when knocked.


  1. We made money? Hmm. My pullman loaf tins are also gathering dust somewhere in the kitchen. I think they'll make excellent boxes for my old CDs ;-)

  2. Jane: I said I THINK we made money. Didnt we? hahaha


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