Before I knew anything about real Greek food, I was introduced to the Greek salad, which featured feta cheese and oregano. At that point, my cheese universe consisted of supermarket standards (cheddar, Swiss, and American); the crumbly texture of feta was completely new to me.
Since then, my cheese universe has become even larger, but feta still has a special place in it. Though I still love feta on salads, I've expanded its uses—to bread.
Depending on the feta you use, it might disappear completely into the dough, or it you might end up with visible pieces. Either way is fine. The feta adds moisture to the dough, so you may need to add a bit more flour if yours is particularly wet.
Marjoram is an herb that seems to have lost its popularity, but I still use it quite often. If you don't have marjoram, you can omit it or use thyme instead. I added just a teaspoon of garlic oil for a little extra flavor punch. I didn't want garlic bread, though—just a slight garlic flavor in the background. The teaspoon was just enough to give that hint.
- Yield:Makes 1 loaf
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces (by weight) crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic oil
Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and set aside until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the bread flour and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will be a bit dense, but that’s fine. Add the salt, feta cheese, marjoram, oregano, and oils. Continue kneading until everything is evenly incorporated.
Flour your work surface lightly. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it briefly. If it seems too wet or sticky, add more flour as you knead. Form the dough into a ball, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled, about 1 hour.
Flour your work surface, preheat the oven to 350°F, and sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet. Knead the dough briefly, then form it into a tight ball. Place it on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, slash as desired, and bake at 350°F until nicely browned, about 35 minutes. Let the bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.