I should warn you, the spinach in the loaf is decorative only. This is a luxurious bread, which means it’s perfect to make four mini loaves and give three away to people who are not on a diet. I first made a version of this two summers ago, when I decided to dive in head-first and multiplied it by eight. Luckily it turned out great, and we all enjoyed it with our soup. The sour cream keeps it moist for a day or two, and for a really really horribly good snack, sprinkle a little more shredded cheese on a slice and broil it. Then do four hundred situps.
Use any not-too-soft cheese you have on hand. The original recipe calls for Parmesan instead of the shredded white cheese; I used a Finland cheese called Lappi. Use Jack, or Pepper Jack, or Beecher’s Flagship… whatever you want. Change up the spices too — try rosemary, or a little mustard powder, or cayenne pepper.
4 ounces mozarella or white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
dash smoked paprika
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into mousetrap-sized chunks (about 1 cup)
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
Heat the oven to 350˚/180˚. Grease one 9″ x 5″ or four 6″ x 3.2″ loaf pans.
In the microwave or a small pot, melt the butter. Stir in the dried basil. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, turmeric, and smoked paprika. Toss in the chunks of sharp cheddar and half (1/2 cup) of the shredded cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until beaten. Whisk in the milk, sour cream, and basil-butter mixture. Stir in the spinach.
Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just moistened. Work quickly, but do not overmix.
Scrap the batter into the pan, diving evenly if using four mini pans, and spread evenly in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over top the batter. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick stuck in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes for a large loaf pan or 35 to 40 minutes for small pans.
Recommended accompaniment: Tomato soup (and maybe a Lactaid pill)