It’s no secret that I love bread. I’ve mentioned it before, and as I love cheese as well, it is understandable that I have a certain weakness for cheesy bread. The lovely soft, chewy texture of bread covered with oozy melted cheese or golden and crusty on top, infusing the bread with the tastes of great cheese. It’s really hard to resist.
This is one of those breads. With great cheese kneaded into the crust, the only thing that could make it better (besides a glass of wine) is melting more cheese on top once it’s done baking and serving it warm. Mmmmmm
This made a beautiful, crusty loaf, and though at first I was thinking a sharp cheddar might have been better, the more I eat, the more I believe the gruyere was the perfect choice.
Cheesy Braid Loaf
Adapted from recipe on Cookie Baker Lynn
1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
6 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
In a large bowl, whisk the yeast into 2 cups of the flour, then mix in the water, sugar, eggs and butter. Mix well with your hands to make sure all the butter is blended in well, then mix in the salt and as much of the remaining flour is needed to make a very soft, pliable dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl, lightly greasing the top. Cover and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled.
Punch the dough down lightly, dump out onto your work surface, form into a rectangle then spread most of the cheese on top. Fold into thirds like a letter a spread more cheese on top. Repeat until you’ve used all the cheese then knead the dough to work the cheese into it evenly.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Divide the dough into thirds and roll each segment into a rope, about 1/2 thick, 15 inches wide. Place each of the ropes on a sheet of parchment paper and braid lightly, being careful not to stretch. Pinch and tuck each end under, brush lightly with oil, cover and let rise another hour or so, until doubled.
Carefully transfer the dough and parchment to a cookie sheet and stick in the oven for 5-10 minutes, turn and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown and a thermometer inserted inside reads 200F. If your loaf is browning too quickly cover loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking until done.
Allow to cool for at least an hour before diving in. Enjoy.
You can definitely cut this like a regular loaf, but I personally think it’s a lot more fun to tear off each of the braided bits. The original recipe also called for cubed chunks of cheese, which gives a more melty bread, but this way, instead of getting occasional pockets of cheese, the whole thing is absolutely infused with it.
Easy, beautiful and delicious, this one is definitely worth making again.