You can use any cheese to make a cheese bread in your bread machine but there are a few key things to keep in mind.
Cheese breads add a tangy and salty flavor and smooth texture to any bread recipe. But you need to think about three things.
- The type of cheese and its texture and hardness or softness.
- How you incorporate the cheese when grated, shredded, cut, diced or melted.
- Tips on topping a loaf with cheese.
1. The Type of Cheese
- Hard cheese:
Cheese varieties have different characteristics. Some cheese like parmesan, asiago, extra sharp cheddar and romano are hard, firm and highly flavorful. These cheeses are best grated and added to the recipe rather than cubed or sliced. The reason is that they don’t melt as well due to their firm texture. Internal loaf temperatures in a bread machine often don’t get high enough to melt a hard cheese like parmesan if it’s incorporated as a half inch or one centimeter cube. If you don’t want the cheese to be incorporated throughout as a grated ingredient, you can cube it into 1/4 inch or 1/2 centimeter cubes or smaller. These will still give you a burst of flavor but won’t be so hard that they interfere with the overall texture.When baking bread with a hard cheese, be careful with proportions. They tend to be saltier and more flavorful than other types of cheese, and too much can overwhelm the taste of the bread. Measure carefully. You may also want to reduce or eliminate any added salt to bread recipes using these saltier types of cheese.
- Soft cheese:
Other cheeses are softer like mild cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, monterey jack, bleu cheese and American cheese. These cheese varieties will melt more easily leaving cheese lined cavities throughout the loaf. They can be cubed, sliced or shredded.
- Very soft and creamy cheese:
There are also cheese varieties that are very soft like brie, mascarpone and cream cheese. These tend to blend into the dough during the kneading process and lend an overall flavor to the loaf. They are impossible to grate or shred.
2. Incorporating The Cheese
Any cheese added to a bread recipe should be at room temperature when it’s added. Cheese is usually added to the bread pan after the liquids and before the flour and yeast. This could vary with some recipes, but if in doubt add the cheese before the flour. Some cheese, especially the very soft and creamy types can also add some degree of liquid to the recipe. If your dough looks like a batter or is too sloppy, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it has the dough-ball consistency you customarily see with a standard bread recipe.
- Grated or shredded:We’re all familiar with cheese graters that can also shred but we sometimes struggle. Hard cheese like parmesan, very sharp cheddar, asiago and romano are the easiest to grate or shred due to their very firm and hard texture. They can also be grated or shredded to any size from fine to medium to a coarse. A fine grate will incorporate the cheese throughout the loaf to a large degree. But shredding is a bit different. Shredding cuts the cheese into strips of varying sizes while grating tends to reduce it to a crumbly texture. You could also use a food processor for this step, but go slow and watch your results. A medium shred will still leave some coloration and extra flavor wherever it appears in the loaf and is often the shred for topping a loaf. A coarse shred is more likely to not only add color to its location within the loaf, but also retain a burst of cheese flavor.Grating or shredding cheese for a bread recipe allows the cheese to be incorporated throughout the loaf. The size of the cut will affect the distribution and appearance of a slice. Any cheese can be shredded with the exception of very soft and creamy cheeses like brie, mascarpone and cream cheese. However, soft cheese like mozzarella, swiss and mild cheddar sometimes present a challenge when shredded. They are so soft that they don’t shred evenly or clog up the shredder. To make matters worse, rubbing cheese against the blades of a shredder creates friction which further softens the cheese. The simple solution is to put a soft cheese into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t want to freeze it rock-solid, but it will firm up a soft cheese to make it easier to shred or grate if you wish. If you left it in too long, just let it thaw a bit at room temperature until it shreds easily. With this technique you can even “fine grate” a soft cheese with less effort and clogging.
- Cubed cheese:
Cutting cheese into cubes will also allow you to incorporate the cheese into the entire loaf but each cube will leave a hole roughly the size of the cube, and cheesy flavor-pockets in each slice. Here again, a very soft and creamy cheese won’t cube easily although you could try the freezer trick if you want. Conversely, hard cheese will cube with no problem but a smaller cube size is critical or you’ll have hard chunks of cheese in each slice rather than a soft group of pockets. You can experiment with cube sizes although a 1/2 inch or one centimeter is about the maximum, and 1/8 of an inch or 1/4 centimeter is about the minimum. Any smaller than that and you might as well grate the cheese.
- Sliced cheese:
Cheese can also be cut into small slices and incorporated into a recipe. In this instance, the thickness of the slice is critical. The usual slice is anywhere from one inch to 2 centimeters square and soft cheeses are usually 1/8 of an inch or 1/4 centimeter thick. This is often done with recipes like mozzarella and pepperoni bread. Hard cheese should be sliced thinner to aid with melting and once again, very soft and creamy cheeses are difficult to slice although cream cheese can be sliced to some degree. Cheese bread recipes using cream cheese often require some degree of slicing or chopping to make the kneading process easier.
- Melted cheese:
Adding melted cheese gives the entire loaf an overall tinge of the cheese color, and spreads the flavor throughout the loaf. You typically don’t see any indication of the full cheese color or flavor in pockets or pieces, but rather a lighter shade of the cheese color if it is a yellow cheese. White cheese like mozzarella and swiss have no affect on loaf color if melted.Melting cheese is a varied process depending on the type of cheese. A very soft and creamy cheese like brie or mascarpone can be melted in a microwave. The recipe should tell you how much and how long. Soft cheese and hard cheese should be grated or shredded fine and gently melted at a simmer in the quantity of milk or water indicated in the recipe for the bread recipe. You’ll need to stir constantly and some people use a double boiler for this step. Milk can be substituted if the recipe allows it or indicates it as an ingredient. The melted cheese in the liquid is then added to the bread pan as the first ingredient, but there’s one more caution. The temperature of the water or milk is usually indicated as anywhere between 80°F/26°C. to 110°F./43°C. If you are heating the liquid to melt the cheese you may find the temperature is much higher. This could kill the yeast. Let the melted cheese rest in the bread pan and try to take it’s temperature with a cooking thermometer to reach the temperature indicated by the recipe before adding the other ingredients.
3. Topping Bread With Cheese in The Bread Machine
Cheese that has been grated, cubed, sliced or melted can be added to the bread pan at the beginning of the process with the other ingredients. However, you need to add the cheese to the top of the loaf later in the cycle. This is usually done about 15 to 20 minutes before the baking cycle is complete. Your bread machine has a timer in the control panel that shows elapsed time. Keep an eye on it for when you reach the 20 to 15 minutes mark. Check the bread after the baking cycle and either leave in the machine a little longer or remove immediately. You don’t want to burn the cheese. The best way to add the cheese topping is to sprinkle cheese that has been shredded at a medium. Don’t top with too much cheese. It will be a mess. You should see an even distribution of cheese and the top of the bread crust when you sprinkle.
With all of that in mind, you’re ready to make cheese breads. These recipes encourage you to try various cheese types with different textures and cutting styles from grated to chopped to sliced to topped. You can vary or alternate types of cheese and combine them, but always make sure the total amount of cheese is in the proportion indicated in any recipe. All of these recipes are made in the bread machine and do not require baking in a conventional oven.
Cheddar Cheese Bread Recipe:
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
- 1 1⁄4cups water (110°F./43°C. )
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⁄4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups medium shred sharp cheddar (at room temperature)
- 1⁄3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (pre-packaged grated is okay)
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
Place the ingredients in the bread pan in the order indicated and select white bread setting, 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust. If you want to top the loaf with cheese, sprinkle shredded cheddar on top for the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking.
Mozzarella and Pepperoni Cheese Bread Recipe:
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
While you add the cheese at the beginning of the process in the bread pan, the pepperoni is added later much like you would add fruits or nuts to a bread machine recipe.
- 1 cup water + 2 tablespoons (110°F./43°C.)
- 1/2 cup medium shred mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 1⁄4 cups bread flour
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
- 2⁄3 cup diced pepperoni (1/4 inch or 1/2 centimeter)
Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order indicated but reserve the pepperoni. Select white bread setting, 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust. After the first kneading cycle, add the diced pepperoni. Let rest after baking, slice and serve.
Blue Cheese Potato Bread Recipe:
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
Blue cheese is a very crumby and pungent cheese. You can chop it coarsely and it will continue to reduce as it’s kneaded into the dough. This recipe calls for the addition of some instant potato flakes to add some integrity the dough.
- 1 1/4 cup water (110°F./43°C.)
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes or buds
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
Add ingredients to the bread pan as indicated by the ingredients and select white bread course, 1.5 pound loaf and dark crust. Serve when ready.