Making bread is super satisfying and not really that hard. Baking with yeast is one of my favourite ways to spend time in the kitchen and it’s so rewarding. Think of having freshly made Ligurian focaccia with your soup or a slice of light and airy Portuguese bread for breakfast. You CAN do it and you will love the results.
Ingredients needed to make homemade Cheese Bread
- bread flour
- instant yeast
- smoked paprika
While this Cheese bread recipe may seem to have specific ingredients, there are a few ways that you can make substitutions that won’t really mess with the final delicious product.
- plain, all purpose flour or 00 flour can be substituted for bread flour. Don’t use cake flour. It won’t make good bread.
- whole milk is preferred but use whatever milk you’ve got or even use water if you prefer
- if you only have salted butter, use that BUT reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon
- instead of white sugar use raw or brown sugar or even substitute honey
- instant yeast can be replaced with active dried yeast – however it’s best to activate it in the lukewarm milk until bubbly and frothy
- sweet paprika can be used instead of smoked paprika
First prepare the dough and the filling.
- Melt the butter into the milk. The mixture should be lukewarm not hot.
- Knead all the remaining dough ingredients together with the milk mixture in a stand mixer or by hand until smooth.
- Form into a ball, place into well oil bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Allow to rise until doubled.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle.
- Mix together filling ingredients.
Instructions for shaping and baking
- Spread the filling all over the rolled out dough.
- Roll up into a log starting on the long side.
- Cut log in half lengthwise.
- Turn the two halves cut side up.
- Twist each half over the other tightly.
- Squish the braid together to shorten the length and fit into prepared pan. Bake until golden brown.
Variations for this recipe
This recipe uses cheese, bacon and smoked paprika to create a tasty filled bread. However there are many variations that you can make using ingredients you have in your fridge. Here’s a couple of ideas but your imagination is the limit – just keep to approximately the same amount of filling.
- use any firm cheese that you enjoy – for example Gruyere, Colby, Provolone, Gouda, Jarlsberg
- ham, salami or any other deli type of meat can be used
- make this homemade bread vegetarian but omitting the bacon
- another vegetarian suggestion is to substitute sliced spring onions or scallions for the bacon
- substituted chilli flakes for the smoked paprika – reduced to 1 teaspoon unless you like it hot
How to store
This bread, like all homemade bread, is best served on the day of baking. However, if well wrapped in plastic and sealed in an airtight container, this bread can be stored overnight in the fridge. I prefer to warm the bread in the oven or toast before serving.
Can this homemade bread be frozen?
Yes, that’s exactly what I did with mine. If you prefer to defrost a few slices at a time, slice the bread first before freezing. Either way wrap the loaf or even individual slices in plastic wrap and then into an airtight container or sturdy zip lock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How to defrost frozen bread
Regardless of whether you are defrosting this particular loaf or a store bought loaf of bread, defrosting is the same. Frozen bread can be defrosted in a few ways. Here are some of my methods.
- Wrap frozen loaf or slices in foil and warm in a moderate oven until heated through and defrosted – my preferred method because it tastes like freshly baked bread.
- Toast slices until defrosted and golden brown.
- Without removing wrapping, allow to defrost at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Tips for success
There are two things you need to think about when making this recipe.
- Preparing the dough. When baking bread the quantity of flour needed is variable. This is where touch is important. The dough should not be too sticky but also not too dry. It should be feel smooth, springy and a little bit tacky to touch. Don’t add all the flour at once because then you can adjust as needed. If you think it’s too dry, you can always add a bit more milk or water.
- Shaping the dough. Good braiding is part of the beauty and taste of this bread. I have added a little bit of melted butter into the filling which serves as the “glue” to hold the filling together so that you don’t lose all of the cheese as you try to braiding. However, it is still important to hold the dough carefully together as you lift and overlap the dough pieces. At the end the braided dough is longer than the pan. Simply, cup your hands around the ends of the braided log and squish the log together to compress the twist and ensure it fits into the pan
How to serve
This homemade bread is perfect served with soup, stews or casseroles. Also, it’s perfect as part of an antipasto platter. But I like to just cut off slabs and eat it freshly baked!
DID YOU LIKE THIS RECIPE?
This updated post was first published on 30 May 2016
Cheese Bread with Bacon
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup (50g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3½ cups (475g) bread flour plus extra if needed and for dusting
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 egg
- 2½ teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups grated cheese
- ½ cup diced bacon
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter cooled
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- pinch salt
Prepare the dough
- Lightly grease and completely line a 8in(20cm) x 4in(10cm) loaf pan with non stick baking paper.
- Heat milk and butter over low heat until butter has melted and the milk is just lukewarm. If the milk is too hot, allow to cool until lukewarm.
- Place the 3 cups flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and milk mixture into a stand mixer bowl
- Use a dough hook and knead for 1 minute
- Add the salt and knead for a further 5 minutes. If too sticky to handle add a little more flour one spoonful at a time. See notes on tips for making the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and form into a ball.
- Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough to the bowl flipping it over so that the dough is oiled all over.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle 20in (50cm) x 12 in(30cm).
- Prepare the filling by mixing together all the filling ingredients until well combined.
- Spread with filling mixture evenly over the dough.
- Starting on the long side, roll the dough up into a log.
- Cut the log in half lengthwise.
- Place side by side and tightly braid the dough pieces. See notes on braiding tips. Pinch ends to seal.
- The log will seems too long to fit into the pan, Simply, cup your hands around the ends of the braided log and squish the log together to compress the twist and ensure it fits into the pan. Place dough into prepared pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until risen. Preheat oven 350°F(180ºC).
- Beat extra egg with water and salt for the egg wash.
- When ready, brush the dough with the egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cool wire rack to cool.
Tips for successThere are two things you need to think about when making this recipe.
- Preparing the dough. When baking bread the quantity of flour needed is variable. This is where touch is important. The dough should not be too sticky but also not too dry. It should be feel smooth, springy and a little bit tacky to touch. Don't add all the flour at once because then you can adjust as needed. If you think it's too dry, you can always add a bit more milk or water.
- Shaping the dough. Good braiding is part of the beauty and taste of this bread. I have added a little bit of melted butter into the filling which serves as the "glue" to hold the filling together so that you don't lose all of the cheese as you try to braiding. However, it is still important to hold the dough carefully together as you lift and overlap the dough pieces. At the end the braided dough is longer than the pan. Simply, cup your hands around the ends of the braided log and squish the log together to compress the twist and ensure it fits into the pan