In a large mixing bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and cheese until well combined. Dump the flour mixture into the large bowl with water and yeast. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix the dough until everything is well combined. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise for about one hour, or until doubled in size.
Generously oil your skillet, including the sides. Use a spatula to loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl and transfer the dough to the skillet. Use the spatula to even out the dough so that it fills the skillet. Cover the skillet with a kitchen towel, and set it aside to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 450F (230C). Bake the bread for 30-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let the bread cool in the skillet for 10 minutes, then carefully remove it from the skillet and allow it to cool fully on a cutting board before slicing.
I used a 10" cast iron skillet to make this recipe. If you use a smaller size, the loaf will end up taller. If you use a bigger size, the loaf will end up thinner.
You can make this bread without cheese for a plain loaf. You can also get creative and use ingredients that you would like in your bread. Spices, garlic, onion, hot peppers, dried fruit, etc are all great examples of ingredients you can use in your bread.
Always check the expiration date on your yeast and make sure it hasn't expired. All your yeast products whether it’s in a jar or a package should be stamped with a “Best if Used by” date. Always make sure you check this date, even when you purchase the yeast, who knows it could have been on the shelf past its expiry date.
To keep your yeast fresh and longer lasting, unopened yeast packages or jars should be stored in a cool or dry place such as your cupboard. However, you can also store your yeast in the fridge or freezer. If you do store it in the freezer and need to use yeast for your baking, make sure you take out the amount you need and let it sit at room temperature for at least half hour before using.
Once your yeast package or jar has been opened, you must refrigerate the yeast or freeze it in an airtight container.
One thing to remember about your yeast, is that it is a living organism and over time it will lose activity, even if you’ve never opened the jar or package. So if you don’t bake often, buy the smaller yeast packages rather than a big jar of yeast.
Why is my bread chewy: Usually your bread will be chewy when there isn't enough gluten formation or you're using a low-protein flour.
Why is my bread dense: Usually bread will be too dense when there is too much flour. Keep in mind this dough will be pretty sticky, do not add more flour than specified. Other factors that come into play are humidity and age of flour. Little yeast, long rise, sticky dough are keys to a good, light loaf.
I don't have a cast iron skillet, what can I use instead: If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can use a Dutch Oven lined with parchment paper. A 4 quart Calphalon soup pot would also work.
How do I know when my bread is done baking: Tap the bottom! Take the bread out of the skillet, turn it upside down and give the bottom a firm thump with your thumb, or a knock and if it sounds hollow it's done. If using an instant thermometer, the internal temperature should be around 200 F degrees.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.