My mother used to make this, so it’s a comfort food thing, especially in the fall. I think it came out of a Good Housekeeping cookbook (or maybe a magazine article long ago), but I’m not sure.
This is batter bread, so it doesn’t require kneading, just thorough mixing of ingredients.
4 ¼ cups sifted flour
2 pkg. active dry yeast (check date)
2 TBSP sugar
2 TSP salt
1½ TBSP dried oregano leaves
½ cup plus 1 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese (or combine with Romano or Asiago)
2 cups warm water (130 deg.F)
2 TBSP softened butter
In a mixing bowl, place three cups of the flour. Add salt, yeast, sugar, and oregano and mix on low speed or by hand until blended. Check the temperature of the water with a thermometer. This is critical for the yeast to properly activate. Add the water and softened butter to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Continue beating for 2 minutes until the batter is smooth. Add the rest of the flour gradually, either beating in by hand or with mixer at low speed. The batter should not be too wet, and it will differ with changes in weather. If it is, add a bit more sifted flour, or you’ll end up with a dense product.
Cover the bowl and let rise in warm place for about 45 minutes until double in bulk. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Beat the dough down for about 30 seconds, then transfer to a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish. Cover and let rise for a short period, perhaps 15 minutes. This allows the batter to rise a bit, but not double. If it rises too much, it will be full of air holes.
Sprinkle the remaining TBSP of cheese over the top of the bread and bake for about 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack. It helps to run a table knife around the dish to break the loaf loose before attempting to turn it out onto the rack. Otherwise, part of it may remain in the dish.
The baking time will depend on your oven, of course. I’ve baked it for as long as 55 minutes. Too little will result in the middle or bottom of the loaf being somewhat dense. Once you’ve made it a few times, you can tell whether or not the batter is too wet, etc. The fragrance will drive you wild. It makes incredible toast unless you consume the entire warm loaf with butter before it gets that far.