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Cheese Stuffed Crusty Bread – Baking With The Gals

Cheese Bread-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Remember when a bunch of crazy gals decided to revisit a cinnamon bun recipe by making the Cinnabon knock-offs a few months back thanks to a recipe that Lisa provided? Well, another type of breadish yummy bake got into our mail boxes last month and this time Mary was tempting us with promises of hot cheesy bread on a quiet Saturday afternoon. Gruyere Stuffed Crusty Rolls from the King Arthur Flour site to be precise. Was I game? You bet I was…so where Lisa, Ivonne, Stephanie, Laura-Rebecca, Sara and Kelly. When I said I’d join in the fun I had no idea that the day in question would turn out so…weird.

Before I tell you more about it though I have to say that I may not be the most eloquent blogger today or the most "happy" one…The reason why our "Cheese Bread" day was weird is the same why I am feeling awkward posting today. B.’s band mate L. has been sick with cancer for over two years now, the same one that took my brother away, the same devastating oesophagus cancer. A couple of days before we gathered last week on Skype to make and bake our bread and chat and laugh, he was sent home after a difficult stay at the hospital. He knew the end was near and he asked to be able to say goodbye to all the musicians and friends he had played with and for over the years. His wife called the young ones who had the most energy to help make this smooth and organized and that’s why B. was on duty calling all the numbers they could find of anybody who might want to come and visit one last time. I volunteered to be in the kitchen fixing a breakfast and a lunch buffet for whoever might stopped by. I was also doing a little stint at the old restaurant that night to get them over the hump of Mother’s day…as if I had nothing more to add to make the day complete, right?!!

I had post-its everywhere to start the bread on Friday since it needs a little starter the day before. Saturday morning I took the starter, flour and cheese to L.’s house just in case I would get stuck there and needed to proceed with the bread. I ended up mixing it up, letting it rise, rolling it, filling with the cheese (parmesan and Monterey Jack), and rolling it into a ever rising and expanding log, all over there. That’s when it hit me: I have got to drive across town with that huge…giant snake of a dough in my trunk, shower, cut it, bake it…and leave it to the hungry wolves of neighbors that I have!!

I was running high on adrenaline and lack of sleep and I think that once it actually come out of the oven, I went to type that it looked like…bleep-bleep-bleep…Well, I don’t think, I know and there is actually our Skype archived conversation to prove it. Well, let’s just that my mind was in the gutter big time when the bread came out of the oven, but the smell of the cheese and the herbes de Provence I had added was too hard for me to resist and as soon as it was cool enough to handle, I ripped one round open and "oh my"…I just wanted to stay there and forget the day, the world and the reality of what was actually going on.

I left for work and I left 3 1/2 rounds of bread on the kitchen counter. When I came back that evening there was 1 1/2 loaf left….I love that I have such a generous husband, so giving in fact that he took 2 loaves down to the neighbors for our weekly get together. I would have probably done the same but…after I took some pictures!! Anyways…From what they said, it was a hit! Seriously, can you resist hot, melting cheese on/in bread fresh from the oven? Nah…me neither!
We loved it so much that I made it again later that week but rolling and cutting "the snake" in 12 rolls as if I were making cinnamon rolls minus the herbs that time. Another "oh my" came out of my mouth that day too. I urge you to go ahead and make it…it is highly comforting, addictive and simply wonderful.

Cheese Bread-Copyright©Tartelette 2008Here is the recipe as I modified it because I did not use the King Arthur brand of flour and I went with all purpose flour instead of bread (except for the starter) without a problem. I also replaced the gruyere with what was in the fridge since the crazy week and weekend made my brain very spongy and I forgot to get gruyere everytime I went to the store.

Cheese Stuffed Crusty Rolls:

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water

all of the starter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) to 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) lukewarm water (I used the lesser amount since it was humid that day)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) grated Montery Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tb Herbes de Provence

To make the starter: Mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix till well combined. Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.
To make the dough: Combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast. Knead by hand or with a stand mixer for a few minutes (I went with 5 minutes by hand). Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s nearly doubled in size. Gently deflate the dough, and pat and stretch it into a ¾"-thick rectangle, about 9″ x 12″. Spritz with water, and sprinkle with the grated cheese and the herbs. Starting with a long side, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface. Cover it and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it’s puffy though not doubled in size. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices, for mini-breads; or simply cut the dough in half, for two normal-sized loaves. Place them on one (for two loaves) or two (for four mini-loaves) lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up. Spread them open a bit, if necessary, to more fully expose the cheese. Spritz with warm water, and immediately place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes (for the mini-loaves), or 35 minutes (for the full-sized loaves), or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Note: You can also roll the log and cut 12 slices from it and set them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and proceed with the recipe as written.

Cheese Bread-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

L. went back to the hospital in the middle of the week so I brought half the rolls to his nurses and the doctors taking care of him. I hesitated posting at all about it today because Lee passed away Saturday night, one week to the day we organized this little visits-marathon weekend for him. I just would like you to indulge me in a little description of him: really tall…think over 6 feet, really big…think Santa Clause belly…about 72 years old although people easily gave him 10
years less…and one of the sweetest and most considerate guys I have met. I am a band wife…the youngest in the band actually, which means that I still go to their gigs on a regular basis and he would always treat me like a daughter, pushing his wife, to come along if he knew I was there. They were married just 15 years ago, finally finding the right companion and lover in each other. L. loved food, he loved bread and he loved desserts…so here you go big guy! This one is for you! His favorite song? "Just A Bowl Of Butterbeans"…. Love you L.! Thank you for all the giant hugs and giant laughs, you will be as missed as you were loved.

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Sylvie May 19, 2008 um 8:30 am

I’m sorry about your sad news. What a lovely thing to dedicate such a nice post to him.

Cannelle Et Vanille May 19, 2008 um 8:45 am

Wow… great tribute to him. That’s what it’s all about in life I think, just enjoy it and love the ones around you. Simple. Just like bread. Simple but always brings people around the table. This looks like a wonderful recipe. As a matter of fact, too good because if I made this, I would just sit there by the oven eating it all by myself before anyone else had a chance to taste it. I know myself. That’s how I react in front of hot, crusty bread. Not so good for my gluten free diet… Again Helen, my hugs out to you and your husband. L was lucky to have friends like you.

MyKitchenInHalfCups May 19, 2008 um 9:42 am

So difficult to let go. The day, the events, the bread you talk about here Helen beautifully bring it all together, it is all part of living. Wonderful bread embraces life.

Michelle Beissel May 19, 2008 um 9:44 am

Haven’t baked bread in decades; this recipe will get me back to baking!

It is wonderfully encouraging to hear about how one can mourn with dignity, feeling, and personalized style. Thanks for sharing.

Suzana May 19, 2008 um 10:32 am

I’m sorry for your lost friend. You’ve payed in a wonderful tribute. Such a moving post, and so positive!

Manggy May 19, 2008 um 10:38 am

I’m sorry about your friend, Helen 🙁 but you are just so sweet to have done all this for him. I’m sure he greatly appreciated it– all this love from his 'daughter'!

And yes, I don’t think I could resist a warm, cheesy bread either 🙂

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) May 19, 2008 um 10:43 am

Of all the things to bake, I think bread is the most comforting. What a lovely gift to give to the community of friends and neighbors.

Laura Rebecca May 19, 2008 um 11:37 am

I am so sorry for your loss, Helen. My thoughts are with you.

Patricia Scarpin May 19, 2008 um 11:58 am

Oh, darling, I’m sorry for your loss. Cancer is a bitch (excuse my French, please).

That is a beautiful recipe and that is the kind of bread my husband likes. We’ll have a long holiday here this week and I’ll be baking it for him!

Anonymous May 19, 2008 um 12:02 pm

Boy, you have had a tough couple of weeks Helen. Lovely tribute. A fitting bread. Thanks for your story.

Carrie May 19, 2008 um 12:13 pm

The bread is beautiful. I am so sorry to hear about L and my heart and prayers go out to you, your husband and his family. You honor him well with the post. It is beautiful 🙂

Gretchen Noelle May 19, 2008 um 1:30 pm

Sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like you have a neat community within the people of the band. that is terrific. Great tribute.

mimi May 19, 2008 um 1:36 pm

i’m so sorry about your friend. i’m amazed at your strength and your generosity despite what must be such a difficult time for everyone. and not only that, but your cheesy bread looks so warm and delish!

Anonymous May 19, 2008 um 2:30 pm


I am so sorry for your and B and L’s family. I know from our many chats that he was a special friend to you and B. I’m glad that you were able to join us and that the making of a yeast bread was cathartic and comforting, just the way bread is suppose to be.

I love the little cheesy "cinnamon" rolls. I can’t wait to try that approach with the bread.

huge hugs and kisses to you and B.

Elly May 19, 2008 um 3:02 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this sad news, Helen 🙁 But thank you so much for opening up and sharing. And what a great tribute.

And of course the bread looks 🙂

LizNoVeggieGirl May 19, 2008 um 3:23 pm

Helen, you certainly have the biggest heart, and I commend you for not only taking good care of B.’s band mate and everyone, during the final moments, but also having the time (and the energy) to make the cheese-stuffed bread. You’re truly an inspiring, incredible being!

That Girl May 19, 2008 um 4:28 pm

There are certain people who come into your life and touch it and make it that much better. L might have been that person for you, but it is clear that you were equally that person for him. You are a wonderwoman.

Julie May 19, 2008 um 4:43 pm

Oh, what a week! I just wanted to send my condolences and good thoughts your way.

Lori May 19, 2008 um 5:11 pm

Sorry about your news. Glad to hear he had 15 years with his soulmate. That is the great side of it. You sure have had your share of loss lately. Okay enough of that. Let Helen have a break from loss!

Lovely bread, it is begging to be eaten.

Anita (Married… with dinner) May 19, 2008 um 6:25 pm

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about Lee, to hear you’ve lost someone so loving and so loved. big hugs for you and B.

(to end on a happier note: the little rolls are so gorgeous.)

Abby May 19, 2008 um 6:40 pm

Perfection, as always. Cheese and bread are two of God’s most perfect gifts!

Anonymous May 19, 2008 um 7:03 pm

I’m so sorry about your dear friend.

Rachel@fairycakeheaven May 19, 2008 um 8:40 pm

Helen, such a touching post to write and that despite the sadness and the pain you can find the happiness in your memories. L sounds fantastic and am sure it was an honour to know him. Hugs girl rx

test it comm May 19, 2008 um 9:22 pm

That cheese stuffed bread looks so good!

Barbara May 19, 2008 um 11:07 pm

I’m a band wife too! I’m sorry about your friend Helene. I can imagine the man he was. I know many musicians just like him.

Anonymous May 20, 2008 um 12:07 am

Sorry to hear the about your friend. One of the things I love most about your blog is that you are so eloquent, even when things aren’t going well. These rolls looks amazing. I love the smell of caramelized gruyere.

Anonymous May 20, 2008 um 1:56 am

Sorry to hear about your friend.

Those cheese buns look fantastic!

glamah16 May 20, 2008 um 2:37 am

Oh Helene, not another friend with cancer! Im so sorry. But his life seemed by your words a good one filled with music, laughter, friends,love,and good food. A lovely tribute to him.

Nina Timm May 20, 2008 um 3:36 am

Baking bread is a lot like therapy and you have worked it all out. I am sorry to hear of your loss- at the moment, is seems untrue, but Time heals!

Sara May 20, 2008 um 4:57 am

Very sorry for the loss Helen. This is a lovely post and the buns look very tasty. I like the idea of the herbs, that is a nice touch.

Anonymous May 20, 2008 um 7:57 am

This was a lovely way to remember your friend.

Lis May 20, 2008 um 9:56 am

Big hug to you, B and L’s wife!

Your bread looks amazing! Although I much prefer the photo you sent me. 😀



Chibog in Chief May 20, 2008 um 1:06 pm

oh helen, reading your post makes me feel so sad too. i think even for me this year is not so great, my dad passed away, my grandmom and now my cousin was just rushed to hospital for cancer too..we all need to hang up and believe that there is always a silver lining after the storm..i love this post and of course this bread look so tasty 🙂

Honeyed Hashette May 20, 2008 um 4:41 pm

Tartelette- I just nominated you on my blog for the E is for Excellence Award. Please stop by to check it out.

Anonymous May 20, 2008 um 6:29 pm

I’m very sorry about the sad news Helene.
It’s good to believe the love that was once born can never die. For it has become part of us, of our life.

Take care.

Gigi May 20, 2008 um 8:00 pm

Sorry about the sadness. I understand the bond the musicians have with their band mates. Mr. Gigi Cakes is in a band and I do my duties of going to shows, packing equipment on occasions and every now then feeding them. I’ll have to print out this recipe for them.

Anonymous May 20, 2008 um 8:02 pm

I’m a band wife also (my husband is a percussionist). I’m a pastry chef and I love that we are both artists and understand each other’s creative personalities.
So sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful thing you did for him and all the chances he had to enjoy your talents.

jennifer May 20, 2008 um 8:09 pm

i totally have to make this. saw this on cream puff’s site too. looks gorgeous and super tasty!

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" May 20, 2008 um 10:43 pm

Helen, L. sounds like a fabulous person…such a big heart. I know his family really appreciated everything that the band did for him.
You’re awesome for feeding all these folks along with working at the restaurant.

Sigh…I’m so sorry that sometimes it doesn’t only rain, but it pours. I wish the best for all those wonderful folks in your life that have joined the cancer community.

Take care,

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

BlondeJustice May 21, 2008 um 2:25 am

What a beautiful post. I so enjoy your blog and your take on the world. I am truly sorry for your loss. Please know that I am sending love to your family and Lee’s.

steph- whisk/spoon May 21, 2008 um 11:30 am

you are such a generous friend! and L sounds like he was wonderful man and band mate…i’m sure the visits-marathon meant the world to him.

Nic May 21, 2008 um 12:07 pm

So sorry to read this, sending good thoughts over for his family and friends.

Jenny May 21, 2008 um 2:24 pm

Hugs to you and to Bill for your loss. What a way to go though, surrounded by loved ones, friends and family alike, with lots of homebaked goodies.
Your bread looks amazing.

Unknown May 21, 2008 um 4:12 pm

So sorry for the loss, Helen.

PheMom May 21, 2008 um 5:36 pm

What a beautiful post! Your friend sounds like a wonderful person – I’m sorry to hear this sad news. Wonderful tribute.

Cookie baker Lynn May 21, 2008 um 7:58 pm

Wonderful, warm, loved. Is this L or the bread, or both? I am sure you were as much a blessing to him as he was to you.

Cakelaw May 21, 2008 um 9:28 pm

A beautiful tribute to L – he sounds like a wonderful man.

La Tartine Gourmande May 22, 2008 um 7:09 pm

Sad indeed. What a nice tribute that you are making!

creampuff May 24, 2008 um 2:55 am

I’m so sorry about your friend! Your bread, of course, is perfect!

Susan @ SGCC May 24, 2008 um 4:10 am

I’m so sorry for your loss, Helen. Cancer is a scourge that seems to be everywhere these days. I lost a close friend to it last week. My legal assistant is also suffering with inoperable cancer. It seems we can’t escape it! All we can do is appreciate every day we have with the ones we love.

Y May 26, 2008 um 3:04 am

A touching post, and a very touching tribute.

PheMom June 6, 2008 um 4:50 am

LOL – I just realized that this is where I saw that bread in the first place! Then I stumbled on it on the King Arthur site the night before I went to the Farmers' Market and bought that cheese! Now I know it will be great with other cheese – I’ll bet the addition of the herbs is amazing too! Thanks for stopping by!

Arundathi July 9, 2008 um 5:14 pm

That looks so amazing – thank you for the recipe. We don’t get bread flour here, so I’m going to try it with apf – hope it looks half as good as yours!

Helene July 9, 2008 um 6:40 pm

Arundati: I wrote that I used AP flour and everyting turned out fine

Arundathi July 10, 2008 um 2:00 am

ooh i’m so sorry! i was reading your post and Patricia’s post at the Technicolor Kitchen at the same time on the bread, and I commented! 🙂 lol!! i did read it, though, and made the starter yesterday!!

Anonymous July 10, 2008 um 8:29 am

Good Job! 🙂

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