Hot cheese bread: grip it and rip it!

If you’re a yeast bread baker, you know that different loaves provoke different visceral responses. There are sandwich loaves, golden brown and perfectly domed, that seem almost too beautiful to cut into. And there’s country sourdough bread, whose occasional lack of beauty is made up for by its enticing aroma. Focaccia begs you to cut it into squares and dip it in seasoned olive oil; a baguette makes you bend down and listen to it “singing” as it cools.

But one response all homemade yeast breads invoke in common: they all say RIP INTO ME RIGHT NOW.

Hot-from-the-oven bread envelops your house with a yeasty aura of warmth and comfort. But it’s not enough to simply enjoy the aroma of bread, or to admire it as it cools. Though you’re cautioned not to cut into a hot sandwich loaf, lest your precipitous cut turn it gummy (and yes, if you cut oven-hot bread, that does happen), other breads are fair game for the “grab, rip, and gorge” response we feel.

Gruyère Cheese Bread falls smack in the middle of that category.

Chewy, oven-hot bread with a crown of crusty melted cheese… does it get any better? This recipe comes from the French Pastry School in Chicago, which uses King Arthur Flour exclusively for breads, cakes, cookies, pastries–every recipe that calls for flour. We’ve adapted their recipe for home bakers, but we didn’t have to do much beyond tweak it to work in home ovens, which differ vastly from the steam-injected brick ovens professional bakers use.

French Pastry School head baker/chefs Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne say this is one of their truly beloved breads, one that never fails to attract customers when it’s pulled from the oven and immediately fills the bakeshop with its steamy aroma of melted cheese and hot bread.

OK, by now you’re chomping at the bit, ready to bake, right? Let’s go for it. Without further ado, here’s how to make the French Pastry School’s Gruyère Cheese Bread.

Mix flour, water, salt, and yeast, and set aside to rest at room temperature overnight.

Just about 14 hours later, look how that simple starter has grown!

Mix the starter with the remainder of the dough ingredients. The dough will be rough at first…

…but becomes smooth and satiny as you knead.

Next, let the dough rise till it’s grown to just about twice its size.

WOW! Unlike more sluggish doughs, this one rises fairly quickly, doubling in size in 2 hours or less.

And the gluten, as you can see, is nicely developed.

Pat the dough into a rough 9” x 12” rectangle.


Next, pick your cheese. While the French Pastry School uses Gruyère, we like to experiment with different cheeses. We find sharp cheddar is an especially good choice.

We use a lot of Cabot cheese here in the test kitchen. It comes from a Vermont dairy cooperative; and not only do we like to support our local farmers, they make GOOD cheese. Their Seriously Sharp Cheddar is a great choice for those of you who love cheddar.

Spritz with water, and layer on the shredded cheese…

…and roll it up, starting with a longer edge.

Here it is, a lovely cheese-filled log.

Once it’s risen again, divide the dough into four pieces; or two pieces, for larger loaves.

Place the pieces, cut-side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You don’t HAVE to use parchment, but it helps with cleanup; these loaves will oooooze cheese as they bake.

See what I mean? Melted cheese bubbles out the top and down the sides of the loaves like lava from a volcano.


See that crater of melted cheese? Go for it!

And here’s a cross section of the “volcano.” You can slice this bread if you like, but really: just rip into it with both hands while it’s hot. Enjoy!

Find the recipe online by clicking here: Gruyère Cheese Bread.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Gene

    Used my sourdough starter with recipe as printed. Used dough cycle on my Zo. After cycle complete shaped two boule loaves after rolling with cheese and let rise in two cast iron covered pots used for crusty loaves. Let rise in covered pots for 90 minutes then baked covered at 425 for 20 Minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes. Outstanding results. Terrific in every respect. Results so good that am baking again today using same technique but without cheese. Should make two great loaves.

  2. Yvette Auyeung

    I spent the holiday weekend practicing my bread baking skills, as I have never been quite successful working with yeast. This cheesy gooey recipe caught my eye as it would give me a break from all the sugary desserts and cookies I’ve been making. My first attempt at making the starter was a disaster. It was very dry and did not bubble up; also a hard crust formed on the surface because I covered it overnight with a dishtowel rather than plastic wrap (recipe did not specify). So I tried again, this time without salt (I had read somewhere that salt would inhibit or kill the yeast) – the starter again was dry but it did bubble up (still did not look like the photo) so I decided to give it a go. I did not put enough cheese in it but I could not stop myself from eating all the cheesy parts hot out of the oven! I’m sure I can improve on the results, but I made grilled cheese the next day with the bread – Oh. My. God. Amazing.

    I love this blog and all the great recipes. Thanks!

  3. Chris

    Regarding the place pieces “cut side up” onto the baking sheet, if you’re cutting it into 4 smaller loaves, there will be two pieces with both ends that are exposed. Do you pinch one end before placing it cut side up? Please advise. Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Chris, it’s a good idea to pinch one of the ends together if making four smaller loaves. Put the pinched sides down onto the baking sheet to help keep all the delicious cheese inside. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Bonnie

    SO good! Because I had it, I added the garlic oil and pizza dough seasoning to the cheese, which was mostly gruyere with a little mozzarella thrown in to bring it up to the 2 1/2 cups. I laughingly called it my Jabba-the-Hutt bread – it’s not an especially beautiful bread. Until you start eating it. And then….the stars aligned and I think I heard some angels singing. One thing to note about the starter – it really is dry. I used the amount of water, bread flour, salt and instant yeast called for and covered it with plastic. After about 9 hours I checked it and it was doing nothing. I added a tablespoon of water, mixed it in, recovered, and at 14 hours it looked like it was supposed to 🙂

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Bonnie, the starter can look a bit thick at first, but after 14 hours it should look a bit more liquid-y. It sounds like you might be adding a bit too much flour to the starter. To ensure you’re using the right amount, be sure to either measure your flour using a scale, or fluff and sprinkle the flour into a measuring cup gently one spoonful at a time. This should help! Kye@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Janet,
      You’ll have better luck baking, then freezing and reheating. ~ MJ

  5. Susanna

    I am new to bread baking, so cannot tell just by eyeing the dough. If I am using a stand mixer, how long should it take? I tried it this weekend, the bread tastes ok. I don’t think I have added enough cheese. The texture is very fine, does not have the large holes as your picture. Could it have been over/under knead and/or over/under proofed? Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Susanna, on a stand mixer 3 minutes on the lowest speed to incorporate the ingredients, and then 3-4 minutes on speed 2 to knead the dough should be sufficient to develop this dough properly. For more help troubleshooting this recipe, please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253(BAKE). Barb@KAF

  6. Kimberly

    Where did you purchase the 56 ounce container you used above to let the dough rise? It’s perfect to see when the dough has doubled!

  7. Meredith

    Hello! Is there any way to make this on a weeknight, like a part where I can leave the dough in the fridge overnight? I’m dying to serve this on Halloween with some hot soup!


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It may be best to make this from start to finish on the weekend, then refresh or reheat to serve these cheesy rolls warm from the oven during the busy week. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  8. Nutrilisa

    Dear PJH,
    Can I use my sourdough starter, already residing in my refrigerator? If so fed or unfed? Thanks, Nutrilisa

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The preferment or overnight starter provides a much different flavor profile than the classic or maintained sourdough starter. You’ll be disappointed in the flavor results – it’s best to make this recipe as written and save your sourdough for another recipe. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

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