Asiago Herb and Garlic Bread
6 cups all-purpose flour
1- 1/2 cups plus 2/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust up or down according to heat preference)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (optional)
2 cups hot tap water (around 120-130 degrees)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus a little for the bowl
Whisk the flour with 1-1/2 cups grated Asiago, yeast, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, rosemary, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic powder. (If using a food processor, simply add those dry ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse 5 times.) Pour in the hot water and stir 100 times (That is equal to 3 minutes with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If using the food processor, drizzle the water in while the machine is running until the dough forms a ball.)
Knead the dough for 8 minutes (If using stand mixer with a dough hook, allow to mix on low for 4 minutes. If using the food processor, allow the ball to spin 20 times.) Form the dough into a tight round. Drizzle some olive oil into a bowl. Place dough into the bowl and flip over, so both sides are lightly coated with olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel (or paper towel) and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces. Form the dough into rounds. To make a nice tight ball, pulling the top of the dough down and over the side. Then, tuck the excess under. Voila! Tight dough balls! Place about 6 inches apart on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Gently pat the dough rounds down so they are relatively flat on top. Use a sharp knife to slash an ‘x’ about 1/4″ deep over the tops of the loaves. Drizzle each loaf with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and then top each loaf with about 1/3 cup additional grated Asiago.
Place baking sheet in a cold oven over a cake or loaf pan filled with hot tap water. Set oven to 400°F. As soon as you turn the oven on, set your timer for 40 minutes. Begin checking the bread when the timer goes off. If bread is a gorgeous deep golden brown, remove it. If it is still light colored, pop it back in the oven. You may need as much as 10 more minutes.
Remove the bread and serve hot, warm or room temperature.