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Italian Easter Cheese Bread


  • Author: Adapted slightly from The Italian Baker by Carol Field
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 125 grams)
  • 1 cup bread flour (about 125 grams)
  • ¾ stick (85 grams) unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup + 1-2 tablespoon(s) grated Romano cheese
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mister, place the yeast and the sugar. Add the water, and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. While the dough needs, mix together the 1 cup of parmesan and ½ cup Romano cheeses in a small bowl.
  6. 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.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  8. 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.
  9. Lightly spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  10. 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.
  11. Preheat oven to 425.
  12. Brush the tops of the dough with the egg white, and sprinkle on 1-2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese.
  13. 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.