How to cook bread cheese and different ways to enjoy it.
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Read on for relevant information, tips and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
What is Bread Cheese?
Bread cheese is an artisan rennet cheese with origins in the Southern Ostrobothnia region of Finland and the Lapland region of neighboring Sweden. It is known as juustoleipä or leipäjuusto (from Finnish leipä=bread and juusto=cheese) or brödost (from Swedish bröd=bread and ost=cheese). Another name for it is Finnish squeaky cheese due to the sound it makes when bitten into.
It has a pleasant fresh aroma, a chewy and firm texture and tastes sweet and salty at the same time. It is an excellent grilling cheese and in the US it is locally produced by Wisconsin cheesemakers.
Its appearance and its texture when warmed through resemble those of toast or French toast, respectively. But perhaps the best way to describe bread cheese is to say it is like grilled cheese without the bread.
How is It Made?
Bread cheese was traditionally made with reindeer milk but now goat and cow milk are most common. The cheese is coagulated with rennet (an animal derived enzyme) and has a very stable protein structure. It doesn’t melt when subjected to high heat. Instead it becomes wonderfully soft with a bubbly surface.
The browned look is derived from baking the cheese – the dry heat creates the appetizing blistering on top. The caramelization of the surface sugars accounts for the toasted bread look.
CURIOUS: If you happen to buy it from Murray’s Cheese in the US you might encounter this impeccable summary of what bread cheese is all about: “It is virtually indestructible in the face of flames. Try crisping it on the grill, under the broiler or on the stove top in a pan”.
Flavored Versions & Where to Buy Bread Cheese
In the US this delicacy is also available in different flavors which are achieved by the use of seasoning. For example, the one we buy at Trader Joe’s is usually seasoned with garlic powder. There are also spicy versions and at our local King Soopers they carry the plain, unflavored version (Carr Valley cheese) which we prefer to prepare and pair with sweet ingredients.
You can buy it at the specialty cheese displays of most well-stocked grocery stores, online retailers and quaint little shops dedicated to good food.
Below is what blocks of bread cheese look like out of the package.
How to Cook Bread Cheese
When warmed up this cheese develops a buttery soft texture. There are several ways to heat it up. Always brush it lightly with cooking oil before you cook it or brush the cooking surface with oil. Just a little bit makes a positive difference.
Below we demonstrate how to
- grill it (as is or skewered, similar to Queijo Coalho); you can also grill it directly onto the grates of a charcoal grill (do not close the lid)
- pan fry it in a non-stik skillet cut into small blocks or even bite sized cubes
You can also
- bake it or broil it until bubbly (place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet first for convenience)
- use a panini toaster (do not shut it, simply use the hot surface)
- air-fry it
- microwave it (least favorite way, it doesn’t taste nearly as good when heated in this manner)
Example preparation for grilled bread cheese skewers with red pepper flakes and honey drizzle: in a greased grilling pan or over medium-hot grill grates char each side until grill marks appear and cheese is warmed through.
Example preparation for pan-fried bread cheese: over medium-high heat in a lightly greased non-stick skillet sear the cheese on all sides until browned and warmed through. (Below shown with garlic flavored version).
Different Ways to Enjoy It
You can group the many ways to eat bread cheese into sweet and savory, depending on what you pair it with or how you flavor it. It always makes a delicious snack
Sweet. Think a drizzle of honey, a dollop of fruit jam, fruit butters, syrups, nuts, dried fruit… This cheese has a natural affinity for preserves and other sweeteners. If we had to pick the best way to have it, it would be with homemade hot honey. We simply take local raw bee honey and add red pepper flakes to it. Then we drizzle the mixture over the warmed delicacy.
Savory. Add warmed bread cheese to salads or grilled veggies, pastas, dip it in marinara, or present it on platters with olives, cooked steak cubes, tomatoes. Or serve it alongside pizzas or even use it instead of fried mozzarella and dip in warm marinara sauce.
- if you are wondering how much cheese to budget for a group of people – the tried and true professional answer is 2 oz cheese per person. For avid cheese lovers you may double that.
- serve it as soon as you warm it up
- get organized – in order to enjoy it warm at its absolute best prepare eveything before hand so you can simply place the cheese on top
Beer. In our opinion there is no beverage better than beer to pair this cheese with. And the options are overwhelming. Try a barrel aged brown ale or a doppelbock for a warming, flavor loaded companion. Or a crisp Czech pilsner. Or a fruity ale such as a raspberry saison or a rich, potent Belgian dark ale. Or a bright, effervescent German wheat ale with its fruity esters (one of our favorite choices). And keep experimenting because there is an entire universe of pairing possibilities out there.
Coffee. Sweetened presentations (such as the hot honey drizzled one above) or nuts and jam covered pieces of seared bread cheese are simply perfect with a cup of strong coffee. Jam topped bread cheese is literally a traditional Scandinavian breakfast item.
Kaffeost. To the uninitiated this may seem very strange, but it is a tradition in certain regions of both Sweden and Finland. Literally coffee cheese, this is a cold bread cheese piece dunked in hot coffee to warm it up or cubes of it placed at the bottom of a cup and hot coffee poured on top. Think of coffee flavored cheesecake and you will begin to get the idea. Remember – people are always after pursuing pleasure. Therefore – this combination has got to be good! Want to know more? Read this account.
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- 12 oz bread cheese*
- 2 tsp cooking oil (olive oil recommended)
1. Remove tha packaging from cold bread cheese, cut it into pieces and skewer it (optional). Lightly brush cheese with olive oil on all sides (alternatively you can lightly grease the surface of the grilling pan if using one).
2. Heat a grilling pan over medium-high heat or your regular grill to medium-hot. (If charcoal, consult this grilling cheese recipe for precise directions).
3. Place the bread cheese pieces onto the surface of the pan or directly onto the grill grates (do not close the lid) and char, gently turning on all sides until grill marks appear and softened. Enjoy immediately.**
1. Remove the packaging from cold bread cheese and cut into pieces***.
2. Place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, grease with the olive oil. Pan fry the cheese pieces on all sides until outside is nicely crispened and inside is soft.
3. Serve with salads, grilled veggies, pasta, etc.
1. Set oven broiler to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Remove the packaging from cold bread cheese, cut into pieces or cube it. Place onto parchment paper lined sheet. Broil in the lower part of the oven until the surface is bubbly (watch it closely, different ovens are calibrated differently).
*Plain or flavored, depending on your preference, consider the toppings/garnishes you will be using. With sweet additions use plain.
**Serve drizzled with honey, or jam, syrup etc.
***You can also cube the cheese when pan-frying.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 426mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g
Based on 2 oz per person of cheese.