[pinit] It might be weird if I told you that I happen to not only love grilled cheese on the perfect slices of gluten free bread(doesn’t everyone?), but that I love cold, leftover grilled cheese even more. You know how the bread gets a little stale, but it’s somehow still crisp on the outside? So I won’t tell you that. I’m not some weirdo. But if you love grilled cheese and haven’t yet tried the famous Ina Garten grilled cheese croutons, maybe it’s because you’re gluten free and you thought it just, well, it wouldn’t be the same. Pish posh!
I tried a few different types of gluten free bread before I settled on using the Gluten Free English Muffin Bread from Bakes Bread for the grilled cheese croutons that I’d been staring at all over the Internet forever.
The English Muffin Bread was my favorite since it’s strong enough to be manhandled in a cast iron skillet (butter, press, flip, press, cut, dunk in soup!), but still just the right balance of moist and tender. The Soft White Sandwich Bread from the book was a close second. It’s really just a matter of taste, though.
It’s not like I think you don’t know how to make grilled cheese, by the way. My goal in this is really just to prove to you (show, don’t tell, right?) that, if they can make it with gluten, we can make it without. Full stop.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is such a classic combination, and has long been one of my favorites. But these croutons are also fabulous served on top of a big ol’ salad, too. You can serve yours warm. I just might like to wait until mine are cool but still somehow magically crisp. Grilled cheese is a wonder!
Prep time:Cook time:Yield:4 to 6 servings
ENGLISH MUFFIN BREAD 3 cups (420 g) Gluten-Free Bread Flour, plus more for sprinkling*
1 2/3 teaspoons (5 g) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (12 g) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g) kosher salt
1 2/3 cups hot milk (110°F)
Coarsely ground gluten free cornmeal, for sprinkling
GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS 4 one half-inch thick slices English Muffin Bread
2 tablespoons unsalted (or salted) butter, at room temperature
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (or another semi-hard cheese), grated
Tomato soup, for serving
*GLUTEN FREE BREAD FLOUR Makes 1 cup (140 g) flour
To make the bread, in the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, yeast, and sugar, and use a handheld whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk to combine. Add the milk and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is smooth. It will be very wet. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap, and set in a warm, draft-free location to rise until nearly doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal. Once the dough has doubled, stir it down to deflate it a bit. Scrape the dough into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top with a wet spatula, and sprinkle the top with flour to create a cloak. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free location to rise until the dough is about 1/2 inch above the sides of the pan (about 1 hour). Remove the plastic wrap from the loaf pan and slash down the center of the loaf at a 45 degree angle and about 1/4 inch deep with a sharp knife or lame. Sprinkle the top of the loaf lightly with cornmeal, and place it in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the loaf is lightly golden brown, registers 185°F in the center on an instant-read thermometer, and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom (about 35 minutes).
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. This bread in particular must be completely cool before slicing as it is very tender.
To make the grilled cheese croutons, heat a large, heavy-bottom (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Brush one side of each of the slices of bread generously with butter. Invert two of the slices and divide the cheese between the two slices, piling the cheese it toward the center of each slice. Cover the two slices with the other two, butter-side up. Place both sandwiches in the hot skillet and press down with another skillet, panini press or heavy plate to compress. Cook until evenly browned and crisp on the underside (about 2 minutes). Flip the sandwiches, and compress again and cook until evenly browned and crisp on the other side (another 1 to 2 minutes). Remove from the skillet, allow to rest until the cheese has set, slice into 1-inch cubes and serve nestled in piping hot tomato soup.