A delicious, fully-loaded bread that’s a cross between garlic bread and pizza. It gets its yummy savoriness from California Cheese and garlic-butter!
Ahh pull-apart breads. I really wish they would become mainstream because more people need to know about this awesomeness. It’s basically a loaf of bread, but you peel it apart layer by flavorful layer to reveal the filling that hides within. It is especially exciting to eat this when the filling involves California Cheese. And lots of it!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Before working on this project, I had no idea what California Cheese was all about. But thanks to the tireless efforts of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) to spread the word about the goodness of real California Cheese, I’ve learned a lot.
And frankly speaking, I’m quite hooked.
When I went to the supermarket to buy my California Cheese, I was truly surprised by how easy it was to spot California Cheese through their seals, both of which you can see on the packaging of the cheeses below quite prominently.
I visited my favorite Supermarket, The Landmark, and was greeted by an extensive lineup of California Cheese. But then I wanted to check and see if it indeed California Cheese is as accessible as they claim, and when I went to Rustan’s and SM Supermarkets, I was able to spot them too. All you need to do is #LookForTheSeal!
When I say California Cheese, I’m not referring to a particular brand per se. I’m talking about cheese that’s made exclusively using Real California Milk by real California cheesemakers.
Both the “Real California Milk” and “Real California Cheese” seals act as a guarantee that you are purchasing cheese made by certified partners in California. This state has been making cheese for over 200 years already, and now they are able to produce a whopping 250+ varieties of California Cheese!
Recently, brands with the California Cheese seal won an impressive 22 awards in an annual cheese competition held by the American Cheese Society.
The best part is, despite its award-winning status, great-quality California Cheese is still being made accessible to everyone. And thankfully, we here in the Philippines get to have a taste. I think you will be surprised by how affordable California Cheese actually is.
I ended buying this brand coincidentally named ‘California’, but there are many other brands that carry the California Cheese seals. I was immediately drawn to this because Pepper Jack Cheese is one of my favorites.
This California Pepper Jack smelled amazing right out of the package and was really tasty! I also got a classic Cheddar Cheese variant. This brand costs less than Php 150 in all the supermarkets I went to, which is a shocker considering the quality cheese I got when I opened the package.
Buying cheeses with the California Cheese seal is like an assurance of freshness and quality. Their cheeses are tightly wrapped, and you can immediately see through the wrapping that they look fresh and appetizing. And great cheese make great recipes of course. I’m super excited to share with you the recipe I made with them!
Considering how cheese is one of mankind’s most well-loved foods, I really tried to think of a recipe that would offer a “new” dining experience involving California Cheese. And then I realized, why not just make something I know I personally enjoy a lot?
For this recipe, I used a favorite tried and tested pull-apart bread dough. It’s a super versatile dough that works with both sweet and savory fillings, but I decided to add some paprika to my dough this time just for fun. I wanted this recipe to look and taste like a cross between a garlic bread and a pizza, and I was able to accomplish that with the help of California Cheese!
This recipe may seem complicated when you read through it, but the whole process is actually quite easy. I’ve added some process pictures below (as usual) to help you along the way, but one thing is for sure, this is totally worth the time and effort!
This pull-apart bread is fully loaded with flavor thanks to that savory California Cheese and garlic-butter combo. I also highly recommend buying a small bottle of pickled jalapeño from the supermarket because this pepper adds such a great sour-spicy kick to the bread.
Cheesy Garlic, Bacon, & Jalapeño Pull-Apart Bread
Makes one 9-x-5-inch loaf
For the dough
- 2 cups bread flour
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika, optional
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the filling
- 2 to 3 cups California Cheese of choice, shredded (I used a combination of Cheddar and Pepper Jack Cheese)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 6 to 8 strips cooked bacon, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced
Make the dough
- 1. In a large bowl (using a spatula or wooden spoon), mix together water, sugar, cayenne pepper/paprika, yeast, bread flour, butter, and salt. Mix until well-combined and a shaggy dough forms.
- 2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work-surface, then start kneading the dough by hand, adding the all-purpose flour a few tablespoons at a time. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and pliable. (If using a stand mixer with the dough hook, it will take about 6 minutes.)
- 3. Shape the dough into a smooth round and place inside a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling wrap or a towel, then allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours in a warm room. It should double in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling
- 4. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Make sure your other filling ingredients are ready to use nearby. Grease a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment. (Cut your parchment in a way that it has an overhang or “wings” on the sides, to make lifting the bread out easier later on.)
- 5. Once risen, punch down the dough and turn out onto your lightly floured work-surface again. Allow the dough to rest for at least 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it easier to work with. (Otherwise it will keep shrinking back when you roll it out.) Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 15-x-12-inch square that’s about 1/8-inch thick. You can slice off the edges to get it into a perfect square, if you wish. Make sure the long end is facing you.
- 6. Lightly brush the dough with 3/4 of the prepared butter mixture until the whole surface of the dough is covered. (Don’t brush too much so it doesn’t get soggy. We will use the remainder later.) Sprinkle the California Cheese in a layer on the dough*, followed by the bacon and jalapeno.
- 7. Cut the dough, using a knife or a pizza cutter, into 6 strips horizontally (long end) and 4 strips vertically (shorter end). You will now have 24 total small rectangles of dough with toppings. Stack one row of dough on top of each other, then gently press to make them adhere to each other. Take your loaf pan and hold it up at a slanted angle with the short end of the pan touching the table. Carefully (and without stretching them), transfer the pieces of dough with the toppings into your loaf pan. It’s okay if some of the filling drops off; you can just put them back or sprinkle them on top later on.
- 8. Keep stacking until all the pieces of dough are inside the loaf pan. Gently push down to fit everything in, if necessary. Lay the pan back down on the table and brush with the remaining butter mixture. Sprinkle any leftover cheese or toppings onto the bread. (The pan may not look full at the moment, but the dough will still puff up so don't worry.)
- 9. Loosely cover the loaf with cling wrap or a kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another 90 minutes. The pan should fill up nicely once the loaf doubles in size. About 20 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 10. Bake the risen bread for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and puffed. If the top is browning too quickly to your liking, tent the bread with some foil. (Some of the cheese may turn crisp and act as a crust to your bread. Yum!) Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen the bread. Lift up the bread using the overhang of your parchment and transfer to a serving platter. Use your fingers to pull each flavorful layer apart. Enjoy warm and toasty!
Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) in the Philippines, but all opinions stated above are my own.
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