Nothing smells better than fresh bread baking in the oven. Except maybe a cake baking in the oven, but that’s for another day. Today we’re talking about warm, just-out-of-the-pan cheese bread.
The recipe we make is, no surprise, from Southern Living magazine. We find their recipes easy to follow and accurate, and since we know the Test Kitchen, we know where to go when we have questions 🙂
The original recipe is called Pam’s Country Crust Bread.
- 2 (1/4-oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups (8 oz.) freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Combine yeast, warm water, and 2 tsp. sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, 3 cups flour, and remaining sugar. Beat dough at medium speed, using paddle attachment, until smooth. Gradually beat in remaining 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour until a soft dough forms. (I use the full 31/2 cups.)
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes), sprinkling surface with flour as needed. (This dough will be really sticky, so don’t be surprised. Flour your working surface well, and sprinkle the dough with flour before you start working. Once you start working, you should find that it comes together easier than you think it will. Knead the dough by folding and pressing it with the heal of your hands.)
- Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
- Roll each dough half into an 18- x 9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle each dough half with 1 cup cheese. Starting at 1 short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll (I always have trouble doing this, and didn’t even bother this time around with the cheese on there). Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends of dough under.
- Place each dough roll, seam side down, in a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat oven to 375º. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (see note below) or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Immediately remove from pans to a wire rack (I just dump the pan upside down and the bread falls out), and brush loaves with melted butter. Let cool completely (about 1 hour).
I have made this recipe at least four or five times now, with and without the cheese. The only trouble I ever have is with the bake time. I recommend baking it 30-35 minutes. I don’t know why, but I always have trouble telling when it’s done. The instruction that the bread will be done when the loaves “sound hollow when tapped” doesn’t work for me. A number of times I’ve taken them out of the oven, they’re perfectly brown, I tap them and they sound done to me, but when we let them cool and cut them open they’re cooked all the way through except in the very centers. This is beyond frustrating. They smell sooo good and then they’re raw inside. Total bummer. So, what I do is this: I tent them with aluminum foil when they get to the brownness that I want, and I bake them 30-35 minutes. Around 30-32 minutes, I’ll take them out, dump them from the pan, and test them by inserting a long wooden skewer into the very center of the bread. If the skewer comes out clean, they’re done. If it doesn’t, then stick them back in the pan and pop them back in for a bit longer. I know this isn’t traditional, but it works for me. Apparently I don’t know what ‘hollow’ sounds like. =p
Also, when I make the loaves with cheese (it can be easily omitted for regular loaf bread), I put a jelly-roll pan on the oven rack below the loaves to catch any melty cheese that may escape. Stay tuned for when we make these into cheesy rolls!