Soft cheese – basil bread

Soft Cheese Basil Bread - Sandwich Loaf
So typically I went to the supermarket and bought TONS of basil with the idea that I was going to make pesto to mix with a huge roll of goat cheese that’s been sitting in my fridge and top it with roasted cherry tomatoes – sounds good, I know! – only to forget for the following five days to buy any pinenuts or cherry tomatoes and find the goat cheese mostly gone into eggs and sandwiches. So I turned this absolutely great recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day into a cheese-basil bread, hence giving a great use to my soon-to-rot basil. The original recipe is a delicious alternative with onions baked inside the dough and rolled with cheese. Delicious. But this time I added the cheese inside as well,  skipped the onions and added the basil. The result is a delicious looking, mildly flavored bread which is great for sandwiches, or as rolls to accompany a meal. Recipe after the jump.

Dough after first rise

Soft crust cheese – basil bread
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Yield: I got 14 small rolls and one sandwich loaf

NOTE: This bread takes either a full day to bake, or you can do it by refrigerating overnight or up to 4 days. Whichever method you use; plan ahead.


6 1/2 all-purpose flour

2  tsps. salt

5 tablespoons agave nectar (you can substitute with honey)

1 cup lukewarm beer

1 cup plus 2 tbsps. buttermilk or regular milk

1 1/2 tbsps. instant yeast

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups chopped basil leaves

1 cup grated emmental cheese (you can use any other cheese, just try to use one that one overpower the basil)


In the bowl of your kitchen aid (or a regular bowl if you’re doing by hand), mix together the flour with the salt. In a separate bowl, combine the beer and buttermilk, and dissolve into them the agave nectar. Pour this mixture and the melted butter over the dry ingredients, and using the paddle attachment, mix on the lowest speed for two minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. (Don’t skip these 5 minutes! It lets the dough relax and gives the gluten the chance to do it’s thing properly!)
Switch to the hook attachment and mix on med-low speed for 5 minutes, adjusting with flour or milk/beer if necessary, until you get a very soft, supple, tacky dough. Add the cheese and basil and continue mixing on low speed until evenly distributed. Transfer the dough to your work surface and knead it by hand for a couple minutes and the roll into a ball. Place it in a big, clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth if baking the same day (you’ll have to rest it at room temp. for about 90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled its size) or with plastic wrap if doing it overnight. (Place in the fridge for at least one night or up to 4 days. Remove from fridge at least 2 hours prior to baking)

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and shape according to what you want to do; For rolls, weigh each piece of dough (I used 60 gram pieces), and cupping it with your hand, roll it in circles against the work surface, using your thumb to keep it round. Place in a prepared baking sheet. If you have a silpat or any other mat; go for it.For the sandwich loaf, line your pan with waxed paper using oil to keep the paper in place. Shape the dough into a rectangle. If you can’t do this, use a rolling pin to lightly (be gentle!) flatten it into a square the size of your pan’s width, and then roll it up. Place it in the pan, seam side down.Cover with a slightly dampened thin cloth. Let the shaped dough rise for 90 minutes, or until it has grown about 1 1/2 times it’s original size. (A little under doubled)

15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 300ºF if its convection, or 350ºF if its a regular one. Bake until deep golden in color, rotating as often as your oven requires. (mine, who is a silly oven, needs this about two or three times during baking, but must ovens only need this done once, midway through baking)


Rolls before baking


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