It was only after I’d baked this bread that I realized that it’s the *fifth* recipe for cheesebread that we have on this site. I also noted that all the other recipes have come from my brilliant co-blogger, who is tireless in her efforts to discover new ways to incorporate cheese into carbs. I find her commitment to be inspiring, and I’m proud to be adding to our Cheesy Bread collection with this fantastic offering, Italian Easter Cheese Bread.
This month, we’re focusing on enriched breads – breads that contain fats, commonly thanks to eggs, butter and/or milk. Since we’re about to enter Spring holiday season, this Italian Cheese Bread seemed like a great recipe to try out (to note, I’m of the non-leavened bread springtime holiday ilk, but that’s not until next month. And besides, who am I to say no to anything Italian?).
For a quick history lesson, this dough is apparently from Umbria and was traditionally served at Easter lunch (it’s apparently also killer with a slice of ham, though again, I’ll trust that’s true and leave the experimenting to the meat-eaters). From my end, I can say that the buttery, crisp crust is bursting with a light, savory, cheesy interior. The bread is excellent on it’s own, and is also fantastic toasted with eggs (or maybe a fried egg sandwich?!). If you have a stand mixer, it’s quite simple to make. There are two rises to coordinate your life schedule around, so it’s admittedly, it’s not quite as fast as this guy (but so totally 100% worth the time).
I know I’m biased, but isn’t it great to have a trusted blog where you have so many cheese bread options to chose from?!
In the bowl of a stand mister, place the yeast and the sugar. Add the water, and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Using the paddle attachment, mix in the eggs, egg yolks, and butter until well mixed together. The butter will be a bit clumpy, but that’s okay.
Add both flours and salt, and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. The dough will look like very thick, sticky cake batter.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, change over to the dough hook, and knead at medium speed for about 5 minutes. The dough will pull away from the side of the bowl – if it doesn’t, slowly add a bit of flour (just a teaspoon or so at a time) until it reaches a more dough-like consistency (but it will still be fairly sticky).
While the dough needs, mix together the 1 cup of parmesan and ½ cup Romano cheeses in a small bowl.
For the last minute or so of kneading, start adding in the cheeses; it will mostly (but not entirely) be incorporated in to the dough. From there, place the dough and the unincorporated cheese onto a lightly floured countertop, and knead briefly until the cheese is well folded in.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, turn onto a clean surface and cut in to three equally sized pieces (I used a kitchen scale for accuracy, but you can just as well eyeball it). Roll out each piece into a 9’’ rope.
Lightly spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Braid the bread, pinching and then tucking under the ends. Carefully place in the loaf pan, and let rise again until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425.
Brush the tops of the dough with the egg white, and sprinkle on 1-2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown (and being careful not to overtake). Let cool in pan 10-15 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.
Strudel and Streusel are two friends living in different cities, sharing a love of baking (and butter) through this blog. With Streusel in Denver, and Strudel in Seattle, we've found our little site to be a great way to stay in touch, share recipes we love, and talk about experiences in our respective cities.