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Feb 21, 2018

Cheddar Cheese and Black Pepper Bread

This cheddar cheese and black pepper bread might just be one of my new favorite loaves.

This cheddar and black pepper bread is loaded with cheddar cheese, both in the dough, and swirled throughout the loaf.

I used a mixture of sharp white cheddar cheese and medium cheddar for this loaf, and this bread was delicious. I took half of a loaf to work and I've never seen anything disappear so fast. To quote a colleague, "I think this is my favorite bread you've made."

As you can see, there's a big load of cheese in this loaf. I grated the cheese with this Microplane Coarse Grater, which made fast work of grating 8 ounces of cheese.

I kneaded half of the cheese into the dough, and then swirled the other half of the dough into the loaf the same way you might incorporate cinnamon into cinnamon bread. If you'd like more pockets of of oozing cheese, grate the cheese with this Microplane Ultra Coarse Grater or this box grater.

I can't wait to try this recipe with Asiago, Gruyére, and even smoked Gouda cheese.

The bread also includes coarsely ground tellicherry black pepper in the dough, as well as more black pepper on the top of the bread.

The flavor of the pepper is not strong, but it definitely complements the cheese. You could also use crushed red pepper or mixture of herbs.

To make this bread, you will need to create a sponge the night before. You can do this by mixing a small amount of yeast, flour, and water, and letting it ferment for 6 to 24 hours at room temperature.

You can also create the sponge with a sourdough starter. Just substitute about an ounce of active and bubbly sourdough starter for the yeast in the sponge in the recipe.

Note: This recipe calls for the Stretch-and-Fold method to develop gluten strength so that your bread will rise high. It involves pulling the rising dough from the sides and folding it over itself. You can see a video of Peter Reinhart demonstrating the technique in this post. While Peter does it on his work surface, I did it in the container in which my dough was rising.

I will be making this Cheddar Cheese and Black Pepper Bread again and again. It's fabulous for sandwiches, toast, and especially for dipping into tomato soup. Toast it to make incredible croutons.

You can substitute a towel lined colander for the banneton or proofing basket called for in the recipe. I recommend dusting the towel with a mixture of wheat and rice flour so that the dough does not stick.

Once you've shaped the dough, slash it to expose all of the cheese, which will ooze deliciously over the top of the loaf.

Love cheese in your bread? Check out the following recipes:
For even more cheese bread recipes, just use the search box in the upper right on this page.
Yield: 1 loaf

Cheddar Cheese and Black Pepper Bread

prep time: 12 hourscook time: 35 MINStotal time: 12 hours and 35 mins


For the Sponge
  • 3 2/3 ounces (2/3 cup) bread flour
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) room temperature water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
Final Dough
  • 12 3/4 ounces (2 1/3 cups) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 1/2 ounces (1 cup plus two tablespoons) room temperature water (less if it is humid)
  • All of the sponge
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) grated cheddar cheese


  1. Mix all of the sponge ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 6 hours, and up to 24 hours. The sponge should rise and then begin to collapse. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, and 3/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. 
  3. Add the water to the sponge and stir to thoroughly combine. 
  4. Start mixing the flour mixture with the dough hook and slowly add the water/sponge mixture. Mix on low for about 2 minutes, until the flour is just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. 
  5. Add the salt and knead on medium low for about 5 minutes, until you have a cohesive dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change the speed to low, and add 1 cup of the shredded cheese, 1/4 cup at a time, and mix 30 seconds between additions. Form the dough into a ball, and place it into a large oiled bowl or container. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes. 
  6. After the first 30 minutes, perform 4 stretch-and-folds (see note above in the post) every 30 minutes, covering the container with plastic wrap each time. 
  7. After the fourth stretch-and-fold, cover the container with plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. 
  8. Line a banneton, proofing basket, or 5 quart colander with a tea towel and dust it generously with a mixture of wheat and rice flour. 
  9. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently stretch the dough out into a 10 inch square. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the dough. 
  10. Roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam closed, and place the log seam side up. Coil the log into a spiral (like a snail shell). Pinch the seam closed. Place the coil, seam side down, and pinch the seams on the sides closed. Cup your hands around the dough, and "drag" it over the work surface in small moves to stretch the top over the dough and create a ball with all of the seams on the bottom. 
  11. Place the ball, seam side up, into the towel lined banneton/bowl. Pinch the seams closed once again. Lightly fold the towel over the dough, and place the bowl into a large plastic bag, or cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until the dough has risen about 50 percent. 
  12. While the dough is rising, place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven, and place a pan (such as a broiler pan) on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the dough has risen, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, and fill a spray bottle with water. 
  13. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the risen dough, and cover with a pizza peel or cookie sheet. Turn the whole thing over, so that the parchment is on top of the peel, and the bowl is upside down. Lift off the bowl, and gently remove the towel. Quickly slash the top of the dough in a cross pattern and sprinkle the top with the rest of the pepper. 
  14. Carefully pour the boiling water into the pan below the stone (cover your oven window to protect it while pouring the water), and close the oven door for one minutes. Then slide the loaf, parchment and all, onto the stone and close the oven door. After a couple of minutes, spray the sides of the oven with water to create more steam. Spray the oven once again after another 2 to 3 minutes. 
  15. Bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes, until the loaf reaches an interior temperature of 205 to 210 degrees F. 
  16. Cool the loaf on a wire rack for 3 hours. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. You are giving me ideas again... you know, I've never brought bread to share with the colleagues, usually just sweet stuff...

    I love breads made with overnight sponge, I think it's "almost" like a sourdough, but you can make on impulse, when the starter is sleeping in the fridge for a couple of weeks and you cannot quite use it right away

    beautiful crumb!

    1. Taking bread to work is such a treat! For this loaf, I sliced and brought half of the loaf, and kept the other half for us. And I have no problem using a sponge for flavor when my starter isn't ready =)

  2. My mouth is watering. I think I'll have to try this out for one of our gatherings so I don't eat the whole thing. Thanks for stopping by and linking it to First Monday Favorites.

  3. Your bread always makes me drool but this one even more so than normal! It looks perfect! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen


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