Cheesy Bread Bakers & the Gruyere-Stuffed Crusty Bread

You know what’s irresistible?

Homemade bread fresh from the oven, and stuffed with ooey-gooey melted cheese.

How do I know this? Because the Cheesy Bread Bakers — Helen, Ivonne, Kelly, Lisa, Mary, Sara, Stephanie and me — gave the French Pastry School’s Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves recipe (found by Mary on the King Arthur Flour blog) a go last weekend. (Go look and see how beautifully their loaves turned out!)

We were not disappointed. This is a bread you have to tear into as soon as it comes out of the oven because it looks and smells so wondrous. First-degree cheese burns are but a small obstacle to overcome in the pursuit of deliciousness. Shane, Jenny and I ate our way through two “mini” loves (which were, by no means, actually mini) in under 10 minutes. I sent one loaf home with Jen and the final loaf will be devoured tonight at dinner.

I am so glad I got to bake in tandem (via skype) with these talented bakers; not only did I get to bake a fantastic bread and pick up some baking tips, I got to know these lovely, caring, kind and talented women a bit better. Yay food bloggers and yay cheesy bread!

Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves (click here for step-by-step photos)

Starter
1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water

Dough
all of the starter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) to 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) lukewarm water*
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

*Use the greater amount of water in winter, when conditions are dry; and the lesser amount in summer, when the weather is humid.

Filling
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, or the grated/shredded cheese of your choice

To make the starter: Mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix till well combined. (Note: it may look a rather dry. — LR) Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.

To make the dough: Combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast. Knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to make a smooth dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and pat and stretch it into a ¾”-thick rectangle, about 9″ x 12″. Spritz with water, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Starting with a long side, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface. Cover it and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it’s puffy though not doubled in bulk. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices, for mini-breads; or simply cut the dough in half, for two normal-sized loaves. Place them on one (for two loaves) or two (for four mini-loaves) lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up. Spread them open a bit, if necessary, to more fully expose the cheese. Spritz with warm water, and immediately place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes (for the mini-loaves), or 35 minutes (for the full-sized loaves), or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Yield: four mini-loaves or two standard-size loaves.
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Categories: Breads, Grade Range: A- to A+, Sides, Snacks

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