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Wisconsin Spicy Cheese Bread

We were watching PBS a few weeks ago – we’re Liberal Elites, you know – and on came Cooks Country – a spin-off of America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated. It can be an informative show at times, but my one complaint is they often take a basic recipe and over-complicate it to make it better, or they change it so much that their new and improved version doesn’t even resemble the original.

But, as can also often happen, a recipe came up that caught my eye. It was a Wisconsin Spicy Cheese Bread – and you know me… bread is my friend. I am always ready to try another loaf or twelve. My mom had a recipe for a Fondue Bread that is similar, but this one called for adding crushed red pepper into the dough and sprinkling on top. After bread, spicy is probably my next most favorite thing. Put the two together and I’m in gastronomic heaven. And we were going over to Victor’s family for a New Year Nosh – a perfect excuse to make it.

I followed the recipe pretty much as written and was just a little bit concerned about the texture – there’s not a lot of actual water in the dough and it felt a little dense as I was rolling it into a ball. It looked more supple on the TV show but one thing I have learned with the Cooks Illustrated family, is the recipes generally work as written.

I did a couple of things different, of course… I used conventional active dry yeast and not rapid-rise. I proofed the yeast in half of the water and then added the rest of the liquid ingredients before adding the flour/sugar/salt and in place of the provolone, I used a fondue cheese left over from Christmas.

It all came together great but I think I could have used up to a quarter-cup more water in the dough. I’ll play with it a bit more next time…

I had planned on taking pictures throughout the making, forming, and baking process, but… I forgot. I did get a picture of the formed loaf in the oven, though.

It was a pretty loaf going in – and even prettier coming out!

And it was really tasty, too!

It was just a little bit dry, but not horribly so and the fondue cheese was a bit of a mistake – it was a bit too runny for the bread and more leaked out in the pan than probably would have had I used the right cheese – but it was a hit nonetheless.

I can see another loaf of this happening, but we’ll definitely need a crowd. It’s not something you make for two…

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  • avatar image
    sara Marsh
    April 4, 2017

    I'm making this right now, and it's on it's first proof...I used my food scale for the flour and sugar, followed all the directions (with the ATK video right at hand) and the dough wasn't shiny, supple, or smooth like theirs was. I'm not even convinced it's going to double in size currently...cAn I use the same amount of regular Active yeast in place of instant rise? Would you have added more than the 1/2C. of water in the recipe? Really looking forward to your response, as I'm going to start over if the dough looks sad, with regular yeast.. have a great day!

  • avatar image
    Tim Dineen
    April 7, 2017

    Hi Sara! Sorry to be late getting back to you.I used regular yeast - proofed it in the water - and pretty much followed the instructions on the ATK website. I did think it needed a bit more water and if I make it again, will add maybe a 1/4 cup more. Regular yeast needs to be rehydrated with water where rapid-rise can go straight into the dry ingredients. I *never* have rapid-rise at home, so I adjust recipes, as needed... Hope this helped!

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