I've never experienced the cooking-as-therapy type of calm in the kitchen. Slowly but surely, though, I'm getting much better at cooking and baking. Not too many years ago, I would despair if there were any instructions other than "Unwrap plastic and cardboard from pizza. Bake at 425."
And today was just one of those days. I woke up in a good mood, but felt defeated about half an hour into my morning. The weather was cool and the gray sky looked as sad as my spirits. I found myself leaning against the counter top in the kitchen, browsing through recipes. Some magical, fairy voice seemed to be singing, "Bread!" There is something so homey and comforting about it.
So mixing bowls and ingredients were gathered. The spoon was stirred in a slow motion at first, then faster. I scraped the sides to get all the bits of dough, and swirled it into the pan. I found myself confident enough to read some reviews and combine a few recipes for something that became my own. The seasonings were already enveloping the entire apartment. Ah, I thought. So this is that baking catharsis I've heard so much about. I even baked a couple loaves of Snickerdoodle bread after that, sending one loaf with a pregnant friend and one to my dad. It felt good to stand barefoot on the linoleum and do something simple and rewarding. Maybe garlic scares away negative things after all.
It's a bit savory and slightly sweet, and a little reminiscent of those amazing Red Lobster biscuits.
Cheddar Garlic Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons Italian seasonings, divided
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, cheese, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, and the egg. Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.
Pour into one greased 9x5 loaf pan. Sprinkle with additional 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. After removing from over, sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cheese.
Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cool.