Why this recipe works Bread baking can take time and patience; it often requires activating yeast, kneading, proofing, shaping, and cooking. And while these steps contribute to a beautiful homemade loaf, it’s possible to make something special with just a mixing bowl, a spatula, and the quick-bread mixing method. The technique isn’t just for sweet breakfast loaves; we employed it to make a stellar savory quick bread that’s moist, rich, and hearty, with a bold, cheesy crust—everything you’d want from a loaf of bread. We simply mixed the dry ingredients (flour; salt, pepper, and cayenne for flavor; cheeses; and a generous amount of baking powder to lift this heavy mix) and the wet ingredients (milk and sour cream for creamy flavor and moisture, melted butter for richness, and an egg for structure) separately and then folded them together. As for the cheese, we mixed small chunks (rather than shreds) of extra-sharp cheddar into the dough for pockets of rich, salty flavor throughout. You can substitute a mild Asiago, crumbled into ¼- to ½-inch pieces, for the cheddar. (Aged Asiago that is as firm as Parmesan is too sharp and piquant.) The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes earlier than advised in the recipe. Use the large holes of a box grater to shred the Parmesan. If, when testing the bread for doneness, the skewer comes out with what looks like uncooked batter clinging to it, try again in a different, but still central, spot. (A skewer hitting a pocket of cheese may give a false indication.) The texture of the bread improves as it cools, so resist the urge to slice the loaf when it’s still warm.
- makes 1 loaf
- baking time 45 minutes
- total time 1½ hours, plus 3 hours cooling time
- key equipment 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
- ½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
1). Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan, then sprinkle ½ cup Parmesan evenly in bottom of pan.
2). Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne together in large bowl. Stir in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until cheese is coated with flour. Whisk milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg together in second bowl.
3). Using rubber spatula, gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined (batter will be heavy and thick; do not overmix).
4). Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup Parmesan evenly over surface.
5). Bake loaf until golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
6). Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about 3 hours, before serving.
variation quick cheese bread with bacon and onion
Cook 5 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces, in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add ½ cup finely chopped onion to fat left in skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes; set aside. Substitute Gruyère cheese for cheddar and omit butter. Add bacon and onion to flour mixture with cheese in step 2.
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