Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves

Who doesn't love warm bread and cheese? Fresh from the oven, a lava-flow of aromatic cheese melts down the sides of these chewy/crusty loaves. They're a wonderful party bread, perfect for enjoying with friends. Our thanks to Chicago's French Pastry School for the recipe that inspired this one.

Prep
25 mins
Bake
25 to 40 mins
Total
15 hrs 20 mins
Yield
4 mini-loaves or 2 standard-size loaves.
Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves

Instructions

  1. To make the starter: Mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix until well combined; the starter will be stiff, not soft/liquid. Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature (65°F to 75°F is ideal); it'll become bubbly.

  2. To make the dough: Combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, flavor (if you're using it), and yeast. Knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a smooth dough.

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  4. Gently deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, or a piece of parchment. Pat and stretch it into a 3/4"-thick rectangle, about 9" x 12". Spritz with water (or brush with garlic oil), and sprinkle with the grated cheese (and Pizza Seasoning, if you're using it).

  5. Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam and the ends to seal. The cheese will try to fall out; that's OK, just try to enclose as much as possible, then pack any errant cheese into the ends before sealing.

  6. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface (or leave it on the parchment and place the parchment on a baking sheet, for easiest transport).

  7. Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices, for mini-breads; or simply cut the dough in half, for two normal-sized loaves. A large sharp knife or serrated knife works well here. If for some reason you fail to cut all the way through the dough at the bottom, simply take a pair of scissors and snip through the dough.

  8. Place the loaves on one (for two loaves) or two (for four mini-loaves) lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up.

  9. Cover the breads and let rise until they're puffy though not doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. If you're baking two loaves, position a rack in the center of the oven. If you're baking four loaves, place two racks towards the center of the oven with just enough room in between to accommodate the rising loaves.

  10. Spread the loaves open a bit at the top, if necessary, to more fully expose the cheese. Spritz with warm water.

  11. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (for the mini-loaves), or 35 to 40 minutes (for the full-sized loaves), or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a deep golden brown. If you're baking four loaves on two pans, rotate the pans halfway through the baking time: top to bottom, bottom to top. Remove the pans from the oven, and cool the bread right on the pans. Bread is best served warm.

  12. Store any leftovers, well-wrapped, for a day or so in the refrigerator; freeze for longer storage (up to 4 weeks). Reheat bread before serving; wrap in foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until heated through. Bread that's been frozen can be taken right from the freezer, wrapped in foil (if it's not already), and put into a 350°F oven. It'll be nicely warmed in 45 to 50 minutes.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make the bread ahead, then refrigerate overnight before baking: Make the recipe up to the point where you've cut the loaves. Place them on the pan(s), and drape with lightly greased plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator and let rest at warm room temperature for 90 minutes before baking.
  • Want to make this bread with King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour? Go for it! Start with the lesser amount of water, adding additional water only if necessary to make a soft, supple dough.
  • To make the bread ahead, then freeze before baking: Make the recipe up to the point where you've cut the loaves and placed them on the baking sheet. Drape the pan(s) with lightly greased plastic wrap and place in the freezer. When loaves are completely frozen, wrap each in plastic and freeze for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake, unwrap loaves and place on a baking sheet. Drape with lightly greased plastic wrap, and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Next day, let loaves rest at warm room temperature for 90 minutes before baking.
  • Want to make this bread with King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour? The resulting loaves will be more chewy than crusty, but still delicious. For best results, allow the just-mixed dough to rest for 20 minutes before kneading; this gives the whole wheat flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead. Also, the bread will probably need a bit less time in the oven; start checking it 5 to 10 minutes sooner than you would a loaf made with 100% all-purpose or bread flour.
    To make 50% whole wheat loaves: Substitute white whole wheat flour for 50% of the bread flour in both the starter and dough.
    To make 100% whole wheat loaves: Substitute white whole wheat flour for all of the bread flour in both starter and dough. When making the dough, you'll probably need to add an additional tablespoon or so of water (up to about 1 1/3 cups water) to make a soft, supple dough. The dough may rise more slowly.