I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I make them all kinds of ways, with just plain cheese (seldom American), with added vegetables and herbs, sometimes even with a slice of lunch meat. I love the warm, melty, crispy, butteriness. Grilled cheese is an utterly satisfying sandwich, with or without a side of soup. (I usually prefer without.) The bread, though, can make or break the sandwich, and I don’t know of anything at the grocery store capable of producing the grilled cheese sandwich of my dreams. I need a bread sturdy enough to stand up to the weight of a panini press, a bread with superior crisping abilities, a bread so sure of itself that it doesn’t mind being sliced thin.
Artisan bread to the rescue!
But an artisan French-style loaf, the kind I usually make, is too small! I need to make too many sandwiches, and my fillings sometimes dribble out – especially sauted mushrooms and onions. So sad. And so, for the best grilled cheese, I make my artisan bread…bigger!
My family gifted me with these hearth bread pans, and they are perfectly sized to hold a full six-cups-of-flour recipe of artisan bread dough. I melt 1/4 cup of butter, pour half in the bottom of the pan, shape the dough, and put it in the pan. Slash the top, pour the rest of the butter on, then bake at 400° for 40 minutes, give or take a few. No need to add steam. I remove it from the pan as soon as it’s done so that the crust doesn’t get soggy.