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Copycat Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread

I am addicted to bread.  Any kind of bread - especially when it is fresh out of the oven warm bread slathered with butter.  It's the ultimate comfort food and quite possibly my love language.  One of my favorite things to eat at Cheesecake Factory is the brown bread that they bring to your table while you are waiting for your meal.  Honestly, I could just sit and eat the bread and then go home, it's that good.  It reminds me of squaw bread that I had growing up - has kind of a molassesy, malty flavor - so delicious.  (They have a similar bread at Outback too.)

Well now I can eat a very close replica of that fabulous bread any time I want here in the comfort of my own home with this copycat brown bread recipe and guess what?  So can you!  Slightly sweet, with a hint of molasses flavor, and sprinkled with oats, this is my new favorite bread to make.  This recipe makes 4 small loaves, but you could shape it in to rolls instead if you wanted.  (If you do that reduce the baking time.)

A French bread pan that works beautifully for this kind of bake, but if you don't have one, don't fret - a normal baking sheet will do just fine!  Also, the cheesecake factory bread is normally a bit darker in color, however, the ingredient list on the Cheesecake factory bread says they use caramel coloring in theirs and we aren't adding food coloring in this recipe as it doesn't change the flavor at all, so this bread will be lighter in color than the original.  

Which whole wheat flour you use will also affect the color - I actually love the Wheat Montana Prairie Gold whole wheat flour when I bake with whole wheat - it's lighter in color and made from white wheat, so it has all the goodness of whole wheat but is a bit lighter in both flavor and color.  (You can pick it up at Walmart and other grocery stores - they also do a darker wheat flour, but if you are new to whole wheat, maybe start with this one.)  I've used both to make this bread and it's fabulous with either, but feel free to use what you have on hand.   

Finally, I have included a little ice trick when you put the bread in the oven to bake in the directions below.  This helps give you a slightly crispier, chewier crust - if you don't want to do it, you can totally skip that part, but I love what the steam from the ice does to the crust of any baguette type bread.  Read through the recipe in it's entirety before starting so you get more familiar with the steps you are going to be taking!  It makes it easier!

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cup warm water
  • 2-1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups bread flour plus up to 1/4 cup more as needed
  • 1-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp molasses 
  • 1/2 Tbsp white cornmeal
  • Oats for garnish
Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl mix the water, yeast and sugar and let sit for 3-5 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture, oil, honey and molasses.
  4. Using the dough hook, mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes.  (If you hand knead you will need to do it 10-12 minutes.)  If you find your dough is not coming together or is too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup additional bread flour- just add it 1 Tbsp at a time so you don't add too much.  Once done, the dough should not stick to your hands.  
  5. Form the dough lightly in to a ball and spray around and under it with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  7. Line a baking sheet or French bread pan with parchment paper and sprinkle with the white cornmeal.
  8. Punch down the dough and divide in to four equal pieces. (I weigh mine to make sure they are close.)
  9. Roll out each piece in to a rectangle and then roll tightly, press down gently, then pinch and tuck the ends to close.  Roll lightly with your hands to complete shaping - they should look like a log, mine were about 8-9 inches long.
  10. Place each roll on the prepared baking sheet, spacing at least a couple of inches apart. Score 3-4 times on each loaf with a sharp knife.
  11. Brush with warm water and sprinkle each loaf with some oats.
  12. Cover loosely with a towel or saran wrap and let them rise another 30-40 minutes until they are almost double again.  
  13. Preheat the oven to 350 with 1 rack placed in the bottom position and 1 rack in the middle position. Place a spare baking sheet on the bottom rack.
  14. Remove the towel or saran wrap and place the bread pan on the middle rack.
  15. Throw 4-5 ice cubes on the spare baking sheet on the bottom rack and close the oven door immediately.
  16. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  17. Serve with butter!
A few pictures at various stages if it helps!


Dough after first rise.



Formed in to logs and scored with a sharp knife.



Brushed with water and sprinkled with oats before second rise.






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