Cheese Bread

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The Jewish New Year has not begun well. The barbaric attack on unarmed Israeli civilians and guest workers by Hamas has shocked most civilized people in its level of brutality. For the Jewish People, the rising anti-Semitism coupled with this massacre is something that we never hoped to see again and has left many of us feeling vulnerable – and angry.

In this divisive world filled with so much hate, what makes me feel safe? When I am anxious, a large pot of soup on my stove and fresh bread in my oven calms me – at least for a time. Right now I have a large pot of my Split Pea Soup on the stove and this Cheese Bread is in the oven. It won’t solve the world’s problems. However, it warms the chills in my body that are only partly from the damp, autumn weather.

The act of chopping vegetables is very therapeutic as is kneading bread dough. And my house smells warm, comforting and inviting. So when so much is beyond my control, I can take at least take command of a small piece of my world. Feeding my family well is my love language.

The original recipe for this Cheese Bread comes from Beard on Bread, with a few tweaks by me. This bread toasts wonderfully and is perfect for sandwiches or to accompany the soup of your choice. As you can see, I’m no professional when it comes to forming the loaves, but it doesn’t prevent us from gobbling up this delicious bread.


Yield: Two 8 x 4-inch loaves


1 package (2.25 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (I actually used Demerara since it was already out on my counter)

1.75 cups warm water (Tap water that is just warm to your fingers is perfect.)

5 + cups of Artisan Bread Flour (I like Bob’s Mill), although all-purpose or regular bread flour will also work

1 scant Tablespoon kosher salt

4 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted, softened butter

1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce

1 cup of freshly grated cheese (You can use cheddar, Emmenthaler, Compte, Parmesan etc. – a combination OR any one cheese.)


This can all be done by hand, but I used a standing mixer.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water along with the sugar. Set aside and allow to proof for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, add 5 cups of the flour and the salt. Stir through and then add the softened butter, the remaining 1.5 cups of warm water, the hot sauce and the yeast mixture.

If you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix everything on the lowest speed. Once you have a shaggy dough (1 or 2 minutes) turn the speed up to the second level and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Don’t add any water or flour yet! It takes a minute or two for the dough to really start to come together. Depending on the kind of flour used, you may not need to add any additional flour or water. I did not. If you feel that the dough is really too wet, then add flour, a little at a time. If the dough REALLY seems too dry after a few minutes of kneading, then add water, one Tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the sides if necessary. As soon as the dough looks supple and smooth, stop the kneading and remove the dough from the dough hook. Place it on the counter and form it into a smooth ball.

If you are doing this by hand, mix with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until a shaggy dough begins to form. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Depending on the kind of flour used, you may not need to add any flour.

Using about 1 Tablespoon of a neutral oil, coat a large bowl. I use the same bowl I mixed the dough in because who wants to wash more dishes!? Then take your dough ball and roll it in the oil.

Cover the bowl with a towel or silicone lid and place in a warm, draft-free place. I usually use my microwave, but I’ve seen people use their dryer or in a corner on their stove. Allow the dough to rise for about 1.5 to 2 hours until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Knead in the grated cheese, until thoroughly incorporated. Then cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and allow the pieces to rest, for about 10 minutes. This allows the dough to relax, which makes it easier to roll out.

Now roll out each piece of the dough into an 11 x 6-inch rectangle and allow these to rest for about 3 minutes. Starting with the short end of the dough, tightly roll each rectangle up, pinching the edges as you go. Then tuck under the ends so that you end up with a loaf that measures 4.5 x 7.5- inches.

Place the dough into two well-buttered or oiled baking tins. Place the tins in a warm, draft-free spot. Allow the loaves to rise to the top of the tin or even slightly above. Depending on how warm your place is, this will take about 30 to 45 minutes or a bit longer.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven. When the loaves have risen, bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you rap on the tops and bottoms with your knuckles or a wooden spoon. Take the loaves and place them directly (out of the tins) onto the oven rack and continue baking for 3 to 5 minutes more to firm up the crusts. Cool the breads completely before cutting.

Plum Cake with Streusel

Due to the unprovoked, criminal and seemingly endless brutal war of annihilation against Ukrainian civilians by Vladimir Putin and his army and the worsening humanitarian crisis, please consider helping by following the link below. There are a number of reputable aid agencies from which to choose. Many of these agencies will also help victims suffering the devastating effects of natural disasters.

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I have always loved Italian Prune Plums. To me they represent the beginning of fall and the Jewish New Year. Perhaps their very brief season contributes to my delight, knowing just how precious they are. And this Plum Cake with Streusel, which is buttery rich with luscious plums- is the perfect coffee cake and one that does justice to the fruit. As a sucker for a good streusel topping, I find this simple cake utterly irresistible. I think you will too.

I even have special French dessert plates that my then boyfriend surprised me with. We had passed a display window with these dessert plates and I said how much I admired them and then forgot about it. Soon after, Andrew surprised me with a set and I knew that he was a keeper. That was 39 years ago and I’ve never regretted that decision!

Unfortunately, prune plums are usually available for only a few weeks at the beginning of fall. So if your store is already out of them, other plums can be substituted. You simply need to cut them into wedges. This lovely cake with lots of delicious streusel on top will also work well with apples. I would choose a Honeycrisp, MacIntosh or Golden Delicious. You can leave the skin on. I would not use a Granny Smith, however. It would be a bit too tough here. Just don’t make the wedges any bigger than 1/4-inch thick.



For Cake

Yield: One 8 or 9-inch cake


6 to 8 Italian Prune Plums, depending on size for an 8-inch cake. (A 9-inch cake might require a few more.)

1 scant cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature

1.5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of kosher or fine sea salt

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 Tablespoons milk or cream

1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For Streusel Topping

1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (114g or 8 Tablespoons), melted

1.25 cups (157g) all-purpose, unbleached flour


Sifted Powdered or Confectioner’s Sugar


For the cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease or butter the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. Cover the bottom with a round of parchment and then grease (I like a vegetable spray for ease) the parchment round and the sides of the pan. Place about 2 generous Tablespoons of granulated sugar in the bottom of the pan. Then gently roll the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the sugar. If there is any excess, just pour it out and discard. If you need a bit more, add a bit more. Set the pan aside.

Here’s a tip: buttery cakes always, always leak while baking. So if you are about to buy a springform pan, get one that has a built-in tray. I only recently started using one and I love it! (FYI I receive no remuneration from this and I am certain that pans by other companies could also be good.) Also, I have found that most 9-inch cakes are even better in an 8-inch pan. They come out a little higher and retain their texture longer without drying out.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters frequently. The end result should be VERY fluffy and a pale yellow.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Then add the milk or cream, salt, almond and vanilla extracts and beat well. The mixture will look curdled but will smooth out as soon as you add the flour.

Sift the flour and baking powder. You can omit this step but it makes for a finer crumb on the cake.

Add the flour and baking powder and only beat long enough to incorporate it. Don’t over mix which results in a tough cake. Using a spatula or large spoon, transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Tap the pan against the counter to get rid of air bubbles and using the spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth out the surface so that it is even and goes to the edges of the pan.

Cut each plum in half down the natural indentation and remove the pit. Cut each half, lengthwise down the middle so you now have 4 pieces. Carefully place the quarters cut-side down into the batter. Slightly push it into the batter.

For the Streusel Topping

Melt the butter.

Mix together all of the remaining ingredient and pour the melted butter over the top. Using a fork, scrape the mixture together, leaving some clumps. Everything should be moistened with butter and with no flour showing, but you don’t want the topping perfectly smooth.

Distribute the streusel all across the top of the plums, making sure that there are no bare spots.

Place the cake on the middle rack in the oven and bake for one (1) hour. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then take a thin knife or spatula and carefully run it around the inside of the pan. Loosen the spring on the pan and carefully remove the ring.

Allow the cake to continue cooling for another 20 minutes. Then using an off-set cake spatula, slide it under the cake lifting it carefully. The parchment paper should slide out. Place it on a cake board and leave it on the rack to cool completely. While you can cut the cake as soon as it is cooled, I prefer it the next day.

Once the cake is fully cooled, place it on a cake plate and cover it well. I love a well-fitting cake dome for preserving cakes. At this point, or just before serving, dust the cake woth confectioner’s sugar that is sifted over the top.