The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Cheese Bread with Sesame Seeds

GSnyde's picture

Sourdough Cheese Bread with Sesame Seeds


This is a variation on Hamelman’s Cheese Bread, using Cheddar and Jarslberg instead of Parmasen, and sprinkling Sesame Seeds on the loaves.  It all started because the fridge was full of cheese.  And I love cheese breads.  I have made the Cheese Board’s Onion-Curry Cheese Bread  ( many times.  But I wanted to try something new.  So I flipped through several baking books, and found Hamelman’s Cheese Bread to be a good starting point.

I used a very active starter, left over from the Tartine Basic Country Bread, as the seed culture, and made the stiff levain per Hamelman’s formula.  The final dough was also from the Hamelman formula, but I substituted the surplus cheeses (sharp Cheddar and Jarlsberg) for the Parmesan in Hamelman’s formula.  And I topped the proofed loaves with a light egg wash and sesame seeds just before scoring and baking.

I recommend using parchment under the loaves to keep the mess off your baking stone.

Here’s the formula and procedure.

Overall Formula


Weight (oz)

Bakers’ %

AP Flour



Water  (75 F)



Olive Oil






Instant Yeast

    .1 (1 tsp)





Sesame Seeds

To taste


Egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tbsp water)




Stiff Levain Build


Weight (oz)

Bakers’ %

AP Flour



Water (75 F)



Mature culture (stiff)




Final Dough


Weight (oz)

AP Flour


Water (80 F)


Olive Oil








Cheese (1/2 Cheddar and ½ Jarslberg), half grated and half in ½ inch cubes




1.  Make the levain about 12 hours before mixing the dough.  Cover and let ripen at room temperature.

2.  Mix all final dough ingredients, except the cheese, at low speed for 3 minutes, then at medium speed for 3 minutes, to moderate gluten formation.  The dough should be quite stiff.  Add cheese and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

3.  Scrape the dough onto a board, round up into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl and let ferment about 2 ½ hours, with folds at 50 minutes and 100 minutes.

4.  Divide into two or three loaves, pre-shape into rounds and let rest, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

5.  Shape into boules or batards and proof about 1 ½ to 2 hours at room temperature.

6.  Pre-heat oven to 500 F, with stone in place and steaming apparatus of choice (I used cast-iron skillet with lava rocks, plus Sylvia’s steamy towels).

7.   When proofing complete, move loaves to parchment covered peel.  Brush loaves lightly with egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.   Then score the loaves , slide the parchment paper onto the oven stone, and steam the oven.

8.  As soon as the loaves are in the oven, reduce heat to 450 F.  Bake with steam for 18 minutes, remove steam apparatus, reduce heat to 400 F, and bake another 16-18 minutes (too internal temperature of 206-207 F). 

9.  Cool on rack.

This bread is amazing when almost, but not quite, cooled.  And it makes nice toast.  The combination of cheese and sesame is really good!




bakingbadly's picture

Mmm, sourdough cheese breads, how can I resist? Looks delicious, Glenn! I had never tasted or encountered any Jarlsberg cheeses, but I'll now be on the lookout for some. I've just read that its mild, buttery, nutty and slightly sweet, which completely fits with my palette. I adore mild cheeses with complex flavours!

Wishing you the best,


Mebake's picture

Beautiful, Glenn! Never baked that recipe before.. very enticing.


Isand66's picture

Nice looking bake.  Cheese + Bread = perfect to me :)

dabrownman's picture

some nice, rise, spring and holes for a 60% hydration dough with lots of cheese in it.  Very nice baking.   If it tastes half as good as it looks - what a winner.

cyb45cynfresh's picture

I have never ever baked with sour dough, but LOVE sour dough bread.  I had some starter "brewing" for 10 days now and I'm ready to bake, however reading the directions, i realize I haven't the foggiest what I'm doing.  When you say you cook with steam in the final part, may I add water to a cast iron skillet and just let the steam rise??  And what about the towels??  additionally, is there a place I can go for baking terminology?  EX:  60% hydration dough?? what is this? and what is levain??  Thanks in advance from the total novice.

MonkeyDaddy's picture

Everybody has to start somewhere and this site is a wonderful place to start.

You chose a rather old thread to link your post to, but you've asked some good questions.

First, your starter: If it's a brand new starter from scratch, it might have the ability to give your bread some nice flavor, but might possibly not be potent enough to rise the bread all by itself.  One way to test this is to use a small quantity of it mixed with equal amounts of flour and water, then see how long it takes for the mixture to double in volume.  You'll notice that nearly everyone on this site gives measurement by weight (usually grams) because that is almost universally considered to be the most accurate method of measuring.  So for example, you would take 25 grams of starter, 25 grams of water, and 25 grams of flour and stir it up in a measuring cup and see how long it takes to grow to double the volume.  If it's 4-6 hours or so, you're in business.  Longer than that and you might need to mature your starter a bit longer.

This brings us to one of your other questions: "levain" is French for "leaven," and it is made in the manner described above.  There are firm versions made with less water, there are versions made with different types of starter (or commercial yeast), and there are a myriad of variations on the theme (each with a different name), but it's essentially a yeast-loaded mixture of flour and water that is added to the dough for the purpose of causing it to rise.  

As for steam: yes, you can preheat a cast iron skillet in your oven and add water to it as you put the bread in the oven for steam, but this is done at the beginning of the bake, not the end.  A long-time contributor to the site, SylviaH, came up with a technique for creating steam that uses wet towels and many people have adopted this technique.  You can read about it here: Oven Steaming - My New Favorite Way

Regarding your question about terminology: If you click the FAQs link at the top of the page you can find a link to the Glossary section which will provide you with quite a few helpful terms.  Be sure to scroll downward at the end of the glossary, as there is a huge comments section attached with even more info.

For the question about "60% hydration dough" it refers to a concept known as the Baker's percentage.  It began as a way for commercial bakers to write down a recipe (referred to as a "formula") in such a way as to make it easy to make a small batch or a huge batch of dough and always have the right proportions of ingredients.  Home bakers have adopted this very efficient way of writing things down and you will see it used extensively on this site.  Basically, whatever weight of flour the recipe calls for is arbitrarily said to be 100%.  Then the weights of all the other ingredients are recorded as fractions of that original weight.  So, for the ease of explanation, let's say your recipe calls for 300 grams of flour (a medium-average sized loaf).  If you wanted a 60% hydration loaf, you would measure out 60% of 300 which is 180 grams of water.  Hydration of dough is a widely discussed topic here, as is Baker's percentage.  One very experienced contributor, dmsnyder, is fantastic at systematizing the baking process and his post Baker's Math: A Tutorial is one of my favorite explanations.  Take a look at it.

Our host, FloydM, started this site back in 2005 (I think) and there have been hundreds of contributors with thousands of comments and suggestions for improving one-another's baking.  Every one of the answers here can be found in even richer detail by using the search function at the top right of the page.  Also, if you're really as new to this as you mention, you should take a look at the Lessons link at the top also - many people have found these introductions to basic breadmaking techniques extremely helpful.  

And if you run into problems or other questions, by all means post them here in the Forum and there will usually be answers pretty quickly - this is a great community of very helpful folks.