The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Adding Cheese to Dough

Libertas's picture

Adding Cheese to Dough

I seek advice for adding cheese to a dough.

I've made a country loaf and (same recipe) added three ounces of grated Parmesan in a side-by-side bake with exactly the same ingredients and fermentation/proof conditions (overnight cold fermentation).  The cheese dough seemed to develop faster/stronger during the folds and seemed to not progress as far during the overnight proof.  The regular dough finger-dent tested nicely and had good volume and oven spring.   I assumed (wrong!) that cheese dough would be in the same condition (did not finger-dent test it - mistake) though it seemed to have too much structure and not sufficiently proofed.  And the resulting cheese bread was smaller and more dense.

Some questions:

Should I reduce salt by amount in the cheese (3oz cheese is about 1.3g sodium)?

Does the cheese absorb water?  Add more water to compensate?  Not sure if the dough developed faster or was just stiffer.

Why does the cheese make the dough and proofing behave differently?

Any other advise on adding cheese would be appreciated!


alfanso's picture

"Why does the cheese make the dough and proofing behave differently?" / "And the resulting cheese bread was smaller and more dense."

As there have been no other replies to your questions, I thought that I'd provide my own limited perspective on adding cheese to dough.  

Going back to some basics.  The rise in the dough is created thanks to the yeasts, whether commercial or as a component of a levain, creating gasses within the dough structure.  In turn, a well developed gluten network acts as a web to capture the gas.  Hence the rise.  Basic, but I though that I'd add that background anyway.  

When you add cheese, or for that matter any other additive to the basic FWSY combination, what you are essentially doing is introducing an interruption to the creation of that gluten network.  Some additives are more interruptive than others.  My very recent and singular foray into adding cheese had me move from 15% to 25% grated cheese to make the flavor of the cheese obvious - which is the point!

For example - if I were to have a 1000g bread at 69% hydration, there would be 585g flour & 405g water, plus salt.  By adding 25% cheese to that same 1000g dough, I now have 510g flour, 352g water, salt and 128g cheese.  It will still be the same 69% hydration, but the introduction of the cheese contributes nothing to the gluten network.  Rather it inhibits the amount of gasses that the dough will be able to support.  Being a grated cheese, as opposed to small shreds or cubes of cheese, it will be completely incorporated into the dough, and not just sitting within and supported by the gluten network, as would a raisin or an olive etc.  Hence, this example yields a dough that has a lesser gluten structure and should not be able to support the rise in either the bulk or the oven as we anticipate a pure FWSY dough would.

"Does the cheese absorb water?"  I would say possibly yes - for a grated cheese, because the dough will be stiffer than a dough at the same hydration without the cheese.  I'll also venture to say no in my example above.  The water, initially at 405g, in now reduced to 352g.  Therefore, there is now less water to hydrate the combination of flour and water, which has increased to a total of 638g.

"Should I reduce salt by amount in the cheese?"  Up to you, but you may wish to experiment with a drop from, let's say, 2% to 1.8% salt.  

love's picture

I have always found that adding grated cheese to dough doesn't really add as much cheesy flavour as I really wanted. For one thing, you need a lot of cheese, which alters your dough structure too much, and the other thing is that you need pricey strong cheese to have detectable cheese flavour. 

For me, the best way to add cheese to bread is to add it in pretty big cubes, like 1/2 inch or even bigger, that melt into delicious, greasy cheese pockets when baked. This way, in addition to having a less adulterated dough, it's a statement. It makes no apologies. "This is a CHEESE bread. Yeah. Not just a 'cheese flavored' bread. There's huge bubbles of cheese in it." You can add some grated cheese on the outside of the loaf to impart a nice cheesiness to the crust as well.