Tips: These loaves tend to spread while baking. For taller loaves, use a baguette pan. You can vary the flavor by using provolone, Asiago, Romano, or sharp cheddar cheeses. To save time, make the dough in a food processor or bread machine. After baking, let the bread completely cool, then wrap tightly in foil and freeze. Thaw at room temperature, and reheat at 300º for 20 minutes.
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
How to Make It
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 cups flour, yogurt, and next 7 ingredients (yogurt through fennel seeds); stir well. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 15 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, one tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), shape each portion into a 15-inch-long rope. Place ropes diagonally on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Uncover dough. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan, and let cool on wire racks.
This bread was really easy to make, though there were a lot of steps. I made everything by hand, and didn't think that the bread spread too much when I baked it (they don't look like baguettes from the store, they are a bit flatter, but they still look nice). The flavor is really nice too!
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