Soft Cheese Bread: Two Ways

Soft Cheese Bread - Two Ways

Delicious homemade, soft Cheese Bread, made two ways: a lovely Cheddar version and a Parmesan and Herb version.

I love to cook new things. I have a cooking queue of new recipes to try that’s a mile long. So many recipes, so little time! So when something makes a repeat performance in my kitchen (or several, in this case), I figure it’s worth sharing.

That’s definitely the case with this Soft Cheese Bread, first discovered a couple of years ago in Peter Reinhart’s book “Artisan Bread Every Day”. A batch makes two loaves, so I have taken to making two different versions when I make it. Today, it was a Cheddar and Herb and a Parmesan Garlic and Herb.

Soft Cheese Bread - Cheddar and Herb

Soft Cheese Bread - Parmesan, Garlic and Herb

Now, you might be thinking. “Jen, that bread there isn’t looking so soft”. But trust me, while this bread has a lovely crust, it is a soft crust, along with a soft interior (owing to the milk in the dough, I believe).

Of course, this is a yeast bread, so it doesn’t really qualify as “quick”, but it is easy and with one baking session, you’ll be rewarded with two great and different loaves. And these loaves freeze beautifully, so slice them up and pop them in the freezer and pull some out whenever a side of bread is in order. Pasta night? Toast up some of the Parmesan Garlic Herb (toasting or popping under the broiler for a bit, really brings the flavours out in this one!). Soup night? Cheddar and Herb will go perfectly with it. And of course, either of these would make a great sandwich bread.

Cook’s Notes for Soft Cheese Bread




This bread is endlessly customizable. All kinds of cheese, herb and other add-in combinations will work. Want to throw in some sun-dried tomatoes or a bit of pesto? Why not! Olives? Yuck. Sure. Lots of cheese or just a bit? It’s up to you.

Finally, there is an option to overnight-rise this dough in the fridge. I rarely do that, because I’m a) impatient and b) not that organized, but feel free to do so. There’s no doubt that any bread benefits from a longer rise for better flavour.

You might also like … my Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bread or my Chunky Cheese Bread.

Soft Cheese Bread - Two Ways

Soft Cheese Bread - Two Ways

Soft Cheese Bread: Two Ways

Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 2 loaves
Calories: 189 kcal
Author: Jennifer
Delicious, soft cheese bread that can be filled with different cheese fillings. If you're measuring your flour in cups, hold back 1 cup to add as needed. This bread freezes beautifully. You can freeze it whole, or slice it and then freeze, so you can grab a couple of slices whenever you like.
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Ingredients

  • 794 grams (28 oz / 6 1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour (can use all purpose, if that's all you have)
  • 2 tsp fine salt or 1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 5 Tbsp white or brown sugar (or 3 1/2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water, about 95° (for even softer bread, use 1 cup water leftover from boiling potatoes, cooled)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm buttermilk or milk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil

Cheddar and Herb (to make one loaf):

  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced herbs (parsley and chives are good choices)

Parmesan, Garlic and Herb (to make one loaf):

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or about 2 tsp. minced fresh garlic)
  • 1/4 cup minced herbs (parsley works well)
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar* together. (Tip: If measuring your flour in cups, without a scale, hold back 1 cup to add as needed later). *If you're using honey or agave, add with the liquid ingredients instead.
  2. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the water and buttermilk and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. Add this mixture, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a dough hook, until the mixture is combined, about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Continue mixing the dough, adding more flour or water, as needed, until the dough becomes soft, smooth and tacky, but not sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then form dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate for up to 4 days, or allow to sit at room temperature until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes). (*Tip: I like to use an 8-cup glass measuring cup, so it's easy to see when it's doubled by the markings).
  5. Note: If you have refrigerated your dough, remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake, to allow it to come to room temperature.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dust each with a bit of flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 10 inches wide and 16 inches long.
  7. For the Cheddar and Herb Bread: spread shredded cheddar and herbs evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.
  8. For the Parmesan, Garlic and Herb: spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, garlic and herbs. Press lightly with the palm of your hand to press the toppings into the butter. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.
  9. Grease two 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pans and set aside.
  10. Shaping: Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough down the centre, lengthwise. Rotate each piece so that the cut sides are facing upward and place them side-by-side. Pinch together the farthest end. Keeping the cuts sides facing upwards as much as possible, place the right-side piece over the left-side piece. Straighen it up and then repeat, pinching together the end closest to you. If any cheese escapes, just place it back on top. Using a bench scraper or spatula, carefully lift the dough into the greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other dough log, then cover both with a greased piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough rises to about 1-inch above the side of the pans in the middle.
  11. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 45-50 minutes total, but after 25 minutes of baking, rotate pans front-to-back in the oven and loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil if necessary (if bread is already well-browned), to prevent the top from over-browning. Bread should reach about 185° internal temperature in the centre.

  12. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for a couple of minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the bread and carefully remove the loaves to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.
 

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Every Day
 

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170 Comments

  • The photos of this gorgeous bread have me wanting to bust out my yeast, right now! Love the swirls and the crust. You are so lucky to have this in your kitchen right now!

  • This looks SO good! Reminds me of the cheesy bread my roommates’ mom used to bring us in college. Will definitely be the next yeasted bread recipe I try!

  • Oh wow! This bread looks amazing. Reminds me of my favourite bread that I loved as a kid. Every Sunday, my dad would drive me to the bakery at the cabin and we’d get a freshly baked loaf of cheese bread. Cannot wait to make this!

    • Thanks Yvonne. This shaping method is nice with a cinnamon bread as well, as it doesn’t make those large gaps or fall apart, like the traditional roll does.

      • Hi Scarlett and no, you don’t have to shape it like this. You can simply roll it up jelly-roll style and bake it as a loaf. Just a heads up though, that rolling it up will probably create gaps inside your bread, where the cheese meets the dough. If you are ok with that, no problem. The other option would be to just add the cheese etc. to the once-risen dough and fold/knead it right in to the dough, then roll up jelly-roll style. You won’t have veins of flavour, but more over-all flavour, but you won’t have that gap issue.

  • This reminds me of a local bakery that makes a soft, sandwich-able white bread loaf marbled with cheddar and herbs. They are famous for giving free slices away for the asking, so when I worked in an office across the street, I loved to go and get a warm slice with a cup of coffee. Now I could make some at home! Rock on! Your bread, as I’d expect, is much prettier than the bakery’s, though. Beautiful work! Is it difficult to shape the loaves in that manner? What I’m saying, is — will I be able to do it? ;)

    • Thanks Sophie and you can totally do this. It’s basically roll into rectangle, fill, roll up jelly-roll-like. Slice down the middle lengthwise and twist the two pieces together. There’s some pictures of the idea in this post, if you’d like some visuals (minus the forming into a ring, obviously)

      • Finally trying these gorgeous loaves this week, and this may be a silly question but: is the amount of cheddar and then parmesan/herbs called for to make one loaf of each? Or is it enough filling to make two loaves of whichever I choose? Does that makes sense :)

        • Makes perfect sense! The amounts are written assuming you would be making one loaf of each, so if you were to make 2 loaves of cheddar, you would need 4 cups of shredded cheese. I know that seems like a lot, but when measuring it shredded, it’s not as much as it seems. Also, I found you really need quite a bit to avoid it getting lost in the bread. You could probably get away with a bit less if using a good, aged cheddar. I tend to use the big, supermarket cheddar blocks for this bread though.

          • Oh for sure! No, it doesn’t seem like too much at all — I just wanted to make sure! I’m excited — it’s not going to last long in our kitchen :) :)

  • Wow! Your bread looks amazing. My husband would love this bread. I seem to have a list of must try recipes that is a mile long, too. I will be adding this recipe to my list!

    • Thanks Kathy. I love this bread because it’s so versatile. It’s the perfect side for so many dishes and occasions. Hope you get a chance to try it.

  • AB5 has changed my baking life, however, I have been on a quest to find the ingredient to make the crust a little softer and the taste a little less bitter. I was happy to see this pin and will be trying it on my next batch. The last flavor that I tried was sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Delicious!

  • This bread looks amazing! I work at a small bakery.and we make a cheesey onion bread that I love. I’m sure this will be at the top of my list as well..I’m going to make the parm. Herb version to go with pasta tomorrow night :) great job!

  • These breads are a thing of beauty Jennifer. I loved the cheese bread I remember as a child with chunks of cheese from the Mennonites at the farmers market.

  • I have these in the oven right now, and I’m SO excited to see how they come out! They already smell delicious!

  • I was first attracted to your website by this beautiful photo only, that I saw on Pinterest. I did a little searching and I found you and the recipe. This looks absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. Just pinned you on Pinterest and all your photos and recipes look amazing!

  • I was just wondering if you had to let the yeast activate before you add it to the dry ingredients or if you just dump it all in together?

    • Hi Kristin, This recipe calls for instant yeast, which doesn’t need to be proofed in liquid beforehand. If you used active dry yeast, yes, you should activate it with some of the liquid before adding.

  • Hi Jennifer, these photos look great! I love making bread and I’m going to make them this weekend. I’m having trouble visualizing how you assemble the dough, in order to get the beautiful swirl effect. Any chance you can elaborate on the process for me? Sorry to be a pain, but I don’t want to mess it up!
    Thanks! Sandra

    • Hi Sandra and it’s not problem at all. It was only after I made it last that I thought it would have been helpful to photograph the shaping thing. I plan to add it to the post the next time I make it. In the meantime, I’ve attached here a picture of shaping Estonian Kringle bread, which is very similar, except we won’t be able to get as many twists out of ours and we’re not going to form it in to a ring at the end.


      Image © My Recipe Journey

      So basically, we are going to spread the filling over the rolled out dough and then roll up jelly-roll style and pinch together. With a sharp knife, you’ll slice down the centre of the log, lengthwise and then rotate the pieces so the exposed filling is facing upwards. Pinch together the far end, then twist the two pieces together a couple of times, making sure to keep the exposed filling side facing up. Pinch together the other end once you’ve twisted it together (you’ll probably only be able to twist it 2-3 times). Carefully lift twisted loaf into greased loaf pan.

      Does that help?

  • oh gosh, i cannot wait to do this and i have bookmarked it! i tried a cheese bread 2 wks ago and it turned out to be very oily and heavy. Not soft at all and i could not go on after the 2nd slice…

    i will make this definitely!

    • Hi Mel, Sure. It would be fine. It’s a mildly sweet and soft bread, with or without fillings. It was be fine plain for sandwiches or toast.

  • This bread looks wonderful and I’m itching to make it. I wonder if you could help as I’m a little confused as to the yeast measurement. When you say “1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast”, do you mean one and a half tbsp or just one half of a tablespoon? Sorry if this seems to be a silly question. Here in Scotland I think we may read quantities a little differently – well at least I do. Many thanks.

    • Not silly at all. For the yeast, it is one and a half tablespoons, so you would add 1 tablespoon + plus 1 1/2 teaspoons. Hope you enjoy the bread!

  • I just found you on pinterest and I’m so excited to follow your blog. I love all the recipes on your site, and it will be hard to decide which to make first! Thanks!

  • I made the cheese and herb. I also added pizza sauce and ham to one loaf and switched out half the cheddar for mozzarella.

  • These look amazing and I will make them tomorrow! One question, do you have pictures of how to make the cuts? I’m having a hard time understanding the directions. Thanks!

    • Hi Alex. No sorry, I didn’t take pictures myself, but the shaping is exactly the same as for this Estonian Kringle (see photos in recipe instructions), except don’t form it into a circle at the end.

  • I made on Friday (cheese and herbs). These breads are very delicious; so soft…… and looks beautiful. Thank you very much

  • Eeee I was so proud of myself on these loaves! Not as pretty as yours, no, but so delicious. My husband is a baked-goods-aholic and we were both just in heaven noshing on slices! So glad I finally got around to trying this on a rainy, grey day! GREAT recipe, will become part of my regular repertoire :)

  • The texture of this bread is amazing, but I definitely think there’s too much sugar and not enough salt in the recipe. I used 2 1/2 tbsp of honey instead of 3 1/2 and it still tastes too sweet for a savoury bread. I’ll probably only use 1 tbsp next time and add a bit more salt and see if that balance works better.

    • I think it’s really a matter of taste, Sarah – the whole sweet/salty preference – so definitely tweak to your taste. I have been pleased with it just the way it is.

      • This recipe is in no way alone in the salt/sugar thing. I made gluten free bread for my sister the other week and it was exactly the same issue. At least I know to alter recipes for myself now!

        I’m also a little surprised you used 1lb tins. I ended up with two 2lb loafs, not sure if the yeast were just particularly happy today, but I’m definitely not complaining.

  • Jennifer, I just sent you an email asking about the shaping if this bread. I’ve made it twice now and it is wonderful but does not look like yours. I scrolled down this site and saw where you took pics of the process, now it makes sense. Maybe it would help for you to say after slicing the loaf in half, you start braiding the two halves together pinching the ends together. I think using the word braid maybe people can visualize it better. My husband loves this bread. He eats it for toast in the morning as well. Thanks for such wonderful recipes.

    • Hi Sue. So glad you and your husband are enjoying the bread. I actually thought about calling it “braiding”, then worried that people would get more confused since braiding is usually done using 3 pieces (at least that’s how my brain works :) I’m going to make it again soon and will be taking photos of the shaping, so that it will be much more clear. Thanks! – Jennifer

    • I made these breads several weeks ago and we love them. However my husband liked the garlic and Parmesan the best, so when I make the bread I make two loaves of the garlic Parmesan and put them in the refrigerator and he eats some almost everyday. Thank you so much for sharing these recipes. I love to try new things.

  • Who is the “Jennifer M.”??? You are FABULOUS. My gosh – these pictures! I’m trying this bread RIGHT NOW, but doing a small loaf pan… BTW – My name is a “Jennifer M.” also! Cheers and Pura Vida from Costa Rica! :)

    • Thanks Tricia :) Baking bread is my happy place. Something about kneading dough is so therapeutic :) And this bread is one of my favourites!!

  • I’m planning to make this bread on Wednesday (it looks so delicious!) and was wondering if you could give an approximate time for how long it takes to prove the second time. Roughly an hour like the first?

    • Hi Sarah, As always, rise time varies (sometimes wildly) between kitchens, depending on the temperature of the kitchen, BUT … I find the second rise is typically shorter than the first. I would say somewhere in the 30-45 minute range. I always do my second proof with the loaves set on top of my pre-heating oven, so that may speed things up slightly in my case.

      • Great and thanks so much for the speedy reply. I’ll be sure to keep the windows shut while I let it rise – it’s warming up in the Toronto area, but it’s definitely not summer yet!

          • I hope you don’t get anymore snow! It’s almost May, the snow should be finished. :)

            Made the bread up this afternoon. I used some nice sharp cheddar and a bunch of chives. It was fabulous. Thank you so much for the recipe. Not only did it make me brave enough to attempt making bread, it also gave me delicious bread. Win win all around.

            • So glad you enjoyed the bread! It’s endlessly customizable with all kinds of fillings (savoury and sweet :). And yes, even for here, late-April snow is unusual. Hope that was the last of it!

  • The bread and photos look positively award winning! You are an “Artist”.
    Off to the kitchen I go…………wish me luck! Thx jojo.

  • Hi there I am looking to try this recipe out but was wondering if you could clarify two things:
    1.) the recipe states 1 cup + 2tbsp lukewarm milk/buttermilk so does that mean 1cup with 2 table spoons in total or 1cup milk with 2 tablespoons buttermilk?
    2.) The oven temperature 350, is this is Fahrenheit or Celsius?

    Many thanks!! Can’t wait to try this out :)

    • Hi Marty and yes, I can clarify :) You can use either milk or buttermilk in this bread. Whichever one you use, you should use 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. of it. And it’s 350F. Hope that helps and enjoy!

  • Thank you! After a week of eating a lot of meat, I fancy making a leek and potato soup tonight and wanted the perfect bread to go with it. This recipe sounds like the one, so am off to the kitchen now to get started! Will let you know how it works for me- bread isnt my strongest point, but the feel good factor is worth each effort make to get it right! :)

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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