Published May 1, 2004.
Run-of-the-mill cheese bread is at once dry and greasy, with fleeting cheese flavor. We were after something different: a rich, moist loaf topped with a bold, cheesy crust.
Most of the recipes tested offered the worst of both worlds: dry bread and no cheese flavor. The breads elicited comments from tasters such as "cardboardy," "tough," and "totally devoid of cheese flavor."
Unlike pizza, wherein bread dough is merely topped with cheese, a true cheese bread involves a more intimate relationship, going well beyond the quick blind date in which the two ingredients are merely thrown together and then heated. Good cheese bread displays a subtle balance of flavor and texture, with neither party getting the upper hand.
Use all-purpose flour with whole milk and sour cream for a clean, creamy flavor and rich, moist texture. Just 3 tablespoons of butter adds richness without greasiness, and using less fat makes the texture heartier and less cakelike. A single egg gives rise and structure without an overly eggy flavor. As for cheese, mix small chunks (rather than shreds) of Asiago or cheddar into the dough. Just 4 ounces adds plenty of flavor without weighing down the bread. For added cheesy flavor (and a crisp, browned crust), coat the pan and sprinkle the top of the loaf with shredded Parmesan.list of recipes