How to Incorporate Cheese Into Your Quarantine Bread Recipe
Do you feel like sprucing up your quarantine bread? Cheese can easily be baked into a lot of breads without sacrificing the soft and springy texture, or added on top for a luxurious crispy cheesy finish.
We have written this simple guide that explains how to incorporate a variety of cheeses into your usual bread recipes including yeasted loaves, cheesy pin wheels, and burger buns.
Cheddars are probably the most common cheese to include in breads, however there are lots of other options too. Asiago, Parmesan, and Pecorino are all delish hard cheeses from Italy, and are popular additions to any bread. The quantity would need to be reduced by about 1/3 as they have a stronger flavor than cheddars. Swiss cheeses can also be used as they have a similar profile to cheddars. Mozzarella, or even better, smoked mozzarella (huge flavor pop!!), is another great choice for baking.
It is really important to use freshly grated cheese, and not the pre-shredded type. The reason for this is that the pre-shredded cheese has cellulose added for its anti-caking and moisture-absorbing qualities, and this stops the cheese from melting properly. The additional 'dry ingredients' (cellulose, potato starch etc) that are in the pre-shredded cheese may also throw off the dry:wet ratio of your bread recipe as they are particularly adept at soaking up moisture, even more so than the flour you're using.
Butter washes on bread give the bread a richer flavor, and keep the crust soft (which you may, or may not, want). Mix some herbs with your butter wash for an even bolder move. I found this awesome guide that explains which herbs pair with which cheeses. It is super interesting as I only previously knew about a couple of the more traditional pairings from the list!
1. Cheesy Bread Braided Loaf:
You can start with any old bread recipe that you like to use, and make the dough as you usually would.
- After your dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 – 2 inches thick and sprinkle your shredded cheese on it. The quantity is up to you, but as a guide, for a loaf with 3 cups of flour, I use around 2 cups of grated or finely sliced cheese.
- Roll the rectangle up and press the flap onto the roll so the seam stays shut and your cheese doesn’t escape.
- With the seam on the bottom, cut the roll in half length ways. Form an X with the two halves (open side up) by laying one half over the other.
- The cross of the X forms the middle of your twisted loaf, so cradle the underneath roll carefully and pull it over the top roll and lay the ends side by side. Do the same on the other side of the X.
- Place the twisted dough into your bread pan, and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
- Bake as usual.
2. Cheese Topped Loaf:
This is the simplest way to incorporate cheese. You can grate, slice, or crumble almost any cheese on top just before you pop the bread in the oven. The melted cheese will garnish your loaf and make the top nice and crispy. A strong cheese like Asiago is great for this.
3. Cheesy Cheeseburger Buns:
If you’re indulging in a burger night, you might as well double down and make some cheesy buns for your cheeseburgers! My top recommendation is to incorporate some grated cheese into your dough right before you form the buns, and to sprinkle some on top as well. The Cheesy Bread Loaf below explains a bit more about how to incorporate cheese into your loaf.
4. Cheesy Bread Loaf:
If you prefer an even distribution of cheese throughout the loaf rather than twisting seams of it, then this is for you! Again, you can start with any bread recipe that you are already comfortable with.
- If you are making a no-knead bread, then you add the cheese at the end of the dough making process by gently stirring it into the dough. Once the cheese is mixed in, rest the dough and bake per your recipe.
- If you will be making a two-rise bread, you can add the cheese after you punch down the dough between the first and second rise. You'll throw the grated cheese in, do as few kneads as possible to achieve an even-ish distribution of cheese, then shape for the second rise and baking per your recipe.
- A good ratio of cheese, for either type of dough, is to use about 1 cup of cheddar (or other cheese) for every 2 cups of flour.
5. Cheesy Pin Wheels (aka Pizza Buns):
Instead of the more common cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar rolls, you can make cheesy pinwheel style rolls with bread instead of pastry! If you have a tried and true cinnamon bun recipe, you can use that for the dough, as long as the dough itself is not sweetened. If not, find a cinnamon bun recipe and follow those instructions until you have the dough rolled out into a rectangle.
- Prepare your cheesy mixture using about 1 cup of grated cheese for every 2 cups of flour, and add any other savory ingredients that you want – crumbled bacon, chives, diced onion, or even a dash of two of hot sauce.
- Spread the cheesy mixture over the rolled out rectangle of dough.
- Roll the dough up and press the flap to the roll so the cheese does not escape. Lay it seam side down and slice into 1-inch rounds.
- Place the rounds in a dish, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. When you first place the rounds in the dish, they should be just touching. Once baked they will end up nestled together so they have soft edges and crispier tops.