While organizing my cabinets the other day, I rediscovered my old friend, the panini press. Just seeing it made my mouth start watering for a hot sandwich, so I hit the grocery store to get some cold cuts and cheese. My intention was to go back home, bake a loaf of white bread, and fire the press up, but I figured I’d leaf through my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and see if there was another fun bread I should give a try. Lo and behold, I came across the recipe for a loaf of bread infused with cheese: Game Over. I’ve found my new favorite sandwich bread.
The recipe called for cheddar cheese, but I was all out. Fortunately I had a bag of shredded pepper jack, so I figured I’d take a chance and see how that did. I’m sure the cheddar would have been absolutely fantastic, but using the pepper jack was wonderful. The tang of cheese and light hint of peppers really checked all the boxes for me.
Sound good to you too? Let’s get started then!
Here’s the recipe as it appears in my Baker’s Companion:
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
- 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 and 1/2 cups (14 and 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons tomato powder or tomato paste (optional, for color)
Combine all the ingredients and mix and knead them together – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Adjust the dough’s consistency with additional flour or water as needed; this dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and pat it into an 8-inch log. Transfer the log to a lightly greased 8 and 1/2 x 4 and 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan (a proof cover works well here), and let the bread rise until the outer edge has just barely risen over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
Simple! Here’s the breakdown with pictures of how I made my loaf.
First I measured out all my ingredients (minus the tomato paste, as it was optional and I didn’t have any handy) and melted the two tablespoons of butter. I then took everything and dumped it into the bowl of my Kitchen-Aid mixer.
Next, using the bread hook attachment, I mixed and kneaded the dough on low until the dough was nice and smooth.
I then covered the bowl with a dish cloth and let it rise for an hour. You can see here that it got puffy, but it didn’t double in size.
I then lightly sprayed nonstick baking spray on my kitchen work space and the inside of my loaf pan, removed the dough from the bowl, and formed it into an 8-inch log. Next, I placed the log into the greased loaf pan.
I then covered it up and checked on it after 45 minutes. I let it rise another 15 minutes because it hadn’t risen as much as I’d liked. While waiting the extra 15 minutes, I turned the oven on, letting it preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s how the loaf looked after the full hour:
Next, I popped the loaf in the oven to bake for 35 minutes. The house started smelling delicious about 20 minutes in…
Once the timer went off, I took the loaf pan out of the oven, flipped it over while gently holding the top of the bread with an oven mitt, and it popped right out. I then set the loaf on a wire rack to cool.
Let me tell you, that bread made one heck of a sandwich!
If you give it a try, let me know how it turned out! Happy baking, everyone!