From America's Test Kitchen Season 5: A Soup Supper
Run-of-the-mill cheese bread is at once dry and greasy, with almost no cheese flavor. Unlike pizza, wherein bread dough is merely topped with cheese, a true cheese bread makes equal partners of the two components. We wanted to make the most of this relationship and create a rich, moist loaf topped with a bold, cheesy crust. We started with all-purpose flour and added whole milk and sour cream for a clean, creamy flavor and rich, moist texture. Just a few tablespoons of butter added enough richness without greasiness, and using less fat made the texture heartier and less cake-like. A single egg gave rise and structure without an overly eggy flavor. As for cheese, small chunks (rather than shreds) of Asiago or cheddar mixed into the dough offered rich, cheesy pockets throughout the bread; a moderate amount added plenty of flavor without weighing down the bread. For added cheesy flavor and a crisp, browned crust, we coated the pan and sprinkled the top of the loaf with shredded Parmesan.
Makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf
If using Asiago, choose a mild supermarket cheese that yields to pressure when pressed. Aged Asiago that is as firm as Parmesan is too sharp and piquant for this bread. If, when testing the bread for doneness, the toothpick comes out with what looks like uncooked batter clinging to it, try again in a different—but still central—spot; if the toothpick hits a pocket of cheese, it may give a false reading. The texture of the bread improves as it cools, so resist the urge to slice the loaf while it is piping hot. Leftover cheese bread is excellent toasted; toast slices in a toaster oven or on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, not in a conventional toaster, where bits of cheese may melt, burn, and make a mess. Our cheese bread is best made with whole milk, but it will taste fine if you have only 2 percent milk on hand. Do not use skim milk.