Soft Cheese and Pepperoni Bread


I have been waiting to share this recipe with all of you for about 10 months now, and am excited to finally unveil it. I was lucky enough to serve as a recipe tester for Peter Reinhart’s new book, Artisan Breads Every Day, and this was by far my favorite recipe of all those that I tested and now that it’s out and in the book, I can share it with you! I have a huge soft spot in my heart for pepperoni bread, as my grandma used to churn out a dozen at a time and we would gobble them up almost as quickly as they came out of the oven. The only way I had ever seen them made was with frozen bread dough – a recipe that I shared in this post. It’s great because it’s quick and you can make large quantities in a short amount of time, but it certainly lacks that distinct homemade bread taste. Using Peter’s cheese bread recipe, I was able to really perfect (if I may say so myself!) pepperoni bread and have to keep myself from making it all the time or I would be in trouble!


I have made the recipe a couple of different ways – both dividing the dough into two as the recipe states and also dividing the dough into four (which is what I did this last time) so as to make four slimmer loaves instead of two large loaves. This is good to do if you want to have more to share! In both instances I made freestanding loaves, or batards. All that I do to transform the recipe below into pepperoni bread is to use shredded mozzarella (or a mozzarella and provolone blend) and add a layer of sliced pepperoni on top of the cheese before rolling it up. Some other variations that I have tried:

♦  Sprinkle dried oregano over the dough before spreading the cheese and pepperoni. Once baked, serve with a side of pizza sauce for dipping.

♦  Add sliced olives on top of the pepperoni.

♦  Use shredded mozzarella, layer on sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced proscuitto, and basil. (I made this to mimic an awesome appetizer that my Chief Culinary Consultant and I had at Dish Osteria.)

As many of you who visit my site regularly know, I am a huge Peter Reinhart fan. I have made many recipes from his book Bread Baker’s Apprentice and they all have become regular recipes of mine, especially the Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. It goes without saying that if you have any interest at all in making homemade bread Peter’s books deserve a spot on your cookbook shelf. Much like his previous book, his new one, Artisan Breads Every Day, is full of wonderful background information that will make bread baking much less stressful, especially if you are new to yeast breads. Included in this book are not only tons of traditional bread recipes, but also a number of pastry recipes and non-yeast recipes such as biscuits. A trend throughout the book is the way that recipes have been formulated with no poolish or pre-fermenting needed, so that you can enjoy freshly baked bread in a fraction of the time. Certainly a wonderful book that you’ll want to add to your collection.

(Click picture to go to the book’s Amazon page.)


Soft Cheese and Pepperoni Bread

Yield: Makes 2 large loaves, 4 smaller loaves or many rolls

Cook Time: 50 minutes for loaves, and 20 to 25 minutes for rolls


6¼ cups (28 oz/794g) unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons salt, or 1 Tablespoon coarse kosher salt
5 Tablespoons (2.25 oz/64g) granulated or brown sugar, or 3½ Tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 cup (8 oz/227g) lukewarm water or beer (about 95°F or 35°C)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (9 oz/255g) lukewarm buttermilk or any other milk (about 95°F or 35°C)
1½ Tablespoons (0.5 oz/14g) instant yeast
¼ cup (2 oz/56.5g) melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1¾ cups (7oz/198g) diced onion (about 1 medium onion) or 1 small bunch of fresh chives (1 oz/28.5g), minced (optional)
2½ cups (12 oz/340g) grated, shredded, or cubed cheese


1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together (if using honey or agave nectar, dissolve it in the lukewarm water instead). Separately, combine the water and buttermilk, whisk in the yeast until dissolved, then pour the mixture and the melted butter into the dry ingredients. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

2. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 3 minutes, adjusting with flour or liquid as needed. The dough should be soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Add the onions and mix on the lowest speed or continue mixing by hand for 1 minute, until the onions are evenly distributed.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 or 2 minutes to make any final adjustments, then form the dough into a ball.

4. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and immediately refrigerate overnight for for up to 4 days. (If you plan to make the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.) The dough should double in size in the refrigerator. If you want to bake the bread the same day you mix the dough, don't refrigerate the final dough; just let it rest at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, until it doubles in size. Then proceed to shaping and baking as described below.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces, each weighing about 2 pounds (907 g). Dust each piece with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll them into rectangles about 8 inches wide and 12 inches high. Spread half of the cheese over the surface of one rectangle and roll the dough up like a rug, from the bottom to the top, to form a log. If any cheese falls out, tuck it back in or save it for the second loaf. Seal the seam with your fingertips. For a sandwich loaf, proof in a greased 4½ by 8-inch loaf pan (or a 5 by 9-inch pan if using onions, which increase the volume of the dough). For a freestanding batard or rolls, proof on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Another option is to cut the log into 1½-inch slices to make spiral rolls; place spiral rolls about 1 inch apart in greased round pans or on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Mist the shaped dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let the dough rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until increased to about 1½ times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome about 1 inch about the rim.

6. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C), or 300°F (149°C) for a convection oven. Because of the cheese, there may be air pockets or tunnels in the risen dough that could cause it to separate in the spirals (cubed cheese creates fewer air pockets than grated or shredded cheese). To minimize this, poke through the top crust in a few spots with a skewer or toothpick. The dough may fall a bit, but it will recover in the oven.

7. Bake loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans; rotate rolls after 10 minutes. The total baking time is about 50 minutes for loaves, and only 20 to 25 minutes for rolls. The bread is done when it's a deep golden brown and the internal temperature is about 185°F (85°C) in the center.

8. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes for rolls and about 1 hour for loaves before slicing or serving.


48 Responses to “Soft Cheese and Pepperoni Bread”

  1. Niki on November 9, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Wow, this looks absolutely sensational! I’ve never tried making bread before – it seems like a challenge to me, as I am a beginner cook. I think I may give this a try though!


    • ivy on September 18th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      its always good to have a challenge especially when you get a good out come.


  2. marina mott on November 10, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Delicious!!! I’ll make this!!


  3. Alicia on November 10, 2009 at 5:25 am

    I think my husband would love this.


  4. Karly on November 10, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Ooh, this is going to be lunch one day this week! Yum!


  5. bridget{bake at 350} on November 10, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Recipe tester? That must be the best job in the world! These rolls look delicious!


  6. Krystle on November 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

    OK…wow…these look and sound delish! I cant wait to try these out!


  7. Cookin' Canuck on November 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I am so excited to try this. Your photos look as gorgeous as this bread sounds!


  8. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on November 10, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I love this idea! I also am a huge fan of the bread, but have never seen it done like this before. It looks delicious, and my favorite – cheesy. 🙂 can’t wait to try!! Thank you!!


  9. Stacie on November 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    This looks fantastic! I am definitely going to have to give this one a try.


  10. Jeannie on November 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Another recipe to try! Thanks for sharing.. love your pic.


  11. Patricia Peterson on November 10, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    That looks soooo good. I’m going to have to try it.


  12. Christy on November 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    This looks so yummy! My family loves pepperoni bread and yours sounds perfectly superb!


  13. Debbie on November 10, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I had the joy of attending a cooking class by Peter Reinhart in Chapel Hill, NC on Halloween Saturday. It was his first class promoting the breads from his new book–it was scheduled for 2 hrs but lasted for 3 1/2 hrs instead! Out of the 60 people in attendance, I think only a couple left early. I certainly stayed for the last crumb!! He demonstrated recipes based on lean dough, sweet dough, challah & chocolate cinnamon babka. He didn’t make any cheese bread & your version looks yummy! Thanks for your wonderful blog!


  14. Von on November 11, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Yum! I love mozzarella in breads- especially when they’re fresh out of the oven!


  15. Gala on November 11, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Yuuum! That looks delicious!!!


  16. Andrew on November 11, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Thank you so much for this! When I was growing up in Vermont the high school made a variation on this with ham and and combination of swiss and cheddar cheese called the Harwood Special. This just brought back so many memories!


  17. Vegetable Matter on November 11, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Our younger son eats pepperoni pizza every morning for breakfast. With ketchup. I know, I know. This recipe looks like a beautiful, healthy alternative that we can bake together. It’s going to be a great weekend project. Cheers!


  18. penny aka jeroxie on November 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

    This looks so delightful! I love the photos and this is a definite keeper


  19. wasabi prime on November 11, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Lovely! The first time I saw the photo, I thought it was for a sweet roll cake, and then I saw the gooey cheese inside and was hip-hip-hooray for cheesy bread!!


  20. Lisa @ The Cooking Bride on November 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I just want to stick my finger in there and eat all that gooey melted cheese!!!!


  21. Noelle on November 12, 2009 at 9:52 am

    This looks soooooo good! Great pictures!


  22. Ashley on November 15, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Ooo this bread looks irresistible!!


  23. Leah on November 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I make a similar bread with sauteed spinach and feta–so good!


  24. Amber on November 16, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I am glad that the book is finally out and we are able to make the final recipes that came out as a result of our testing. I have yet to order my copy but I hope to soon. This looks delicious.


  25. Bibiana Bailey on November 16, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    That look so delicious. My boys would love that.

    I am putting this into my recipe box


  26. Andy on January 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Made this bread this past weekend. Came out excellent! Definitely a keeper.


  27. Lyss on February 2, 2010 at 4:20 am

    This looks like the pepperoni rolls I used to sell at Great Harvest Breads. I’ll have to try and see if it tastes similar cause it sure was good there!


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  29. jenna on June 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Truly appetizing pics.
    I like that your grandma’s version is moderate: I’ve been looking at stromboli recipes recently and most were several deli meats and lots of cheese with some bread to hold everything together. Overload.
    If you’ve got the time and energy, it’s nice to make individual rolls. They’re easy to pack and eat while we’re on the go. I add veg like braised greens: Guess it’s a fusion of stromboli/bierock/spring rolls. LOL


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  32. Colleen on July 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

    This looks absolutely delicious!! I can’t wait to try it! Have you ever had the Cheese & Pepperoni bread from the Oakmont Bakery? Or really…anything from there? I spent a few years there and I just absolutely miss it. I LOVE your website… I can’t wait to start baking/cooking and enjoying all of your brilliant recipes.


    • Michelle on July 20th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Oh I LOVE Oakmont Bakery!!! I have actually never had their cheese & pepperoni bread, I must get some the next time I’m over in Oakmont!


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  36. Travis on August 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    This looks great but I’ve been reading it and its called soft cheese and pepperoni bread but no where do you mention pepperoni as an ingredient. I mean its easy enough to figure out how to add pepperoni I just find it strange that its a main ingredient and it was completely left out of the list and instructions.


    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Travis, I explain how I adapt this into the pepperoni and cheese bread in the second paragraph above, along with some other variations.


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  38. Kaitlin Brown Pastry Chef Wannabe on January 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Hi! First I want to say I love you, and your recipes! You are an amazing person and you inspire me to create, and bake recipes better! This was delicious, and so easy to make too! I found this website the other day and I’ve already made over 10 of your recipes for my family of 7! I’m 16 years old and one day I hope to own my own bakery and be the head pastry chef in it! Thanks again for the awesome recipes! 🙂


  39. MomTom on March 28, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    The picture made me want to try this and I am soooo glad I did. This bread was delicious. My husband ate an entire loaf by himself. I do not use instant yeast so I dissolved the yeast and sugar in the milk ( I used whole at 120 deg F) for about 10 min. I also made sure the water and butter were 120 deg F also. I sifted 4 cups flour with the salt, then added in the combined wet ingredients. After mixing a few minutes I added in about 1.5 more cups flour for a total of 5.5 instead of the 6.25. Added in 1 cup chopped green onion then let dough rest for 10 min. I then kneaded for about 5 minuntes, divided the dough in two, put half in a ziplock bag to rise overnight. The other half I let rise and followed the recipe from there. When forming the loaves I sprinkled italian seasoning on the rolled sheet before I put on the cheese and pepperoni. Next time I will only roll the dough out to about .5 in thick bc I had it about .25 in and the cheese busted out of the sides but still delish! I will definitely make this again. Thank you for this recipe. I am trying the cinnamon pull apart bread next. 🙂


  40. Sarah M on May 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I pulled this bread out of the oven about an hour ago and it is perfect! I added pepperoni (about a half ounce), used whole milk, water, onions, brown sugar and 8 ounces mozzarella cheese. Just wanted to say, in case anyone else wants to try this recipe, that when I added the onions to the dough it made everything super soggy and I was a little worried I was going to have to throw the whole thing away. I dumped the dough out on the counter, added probably a half cup or so of flour, kneaded a few minutes by hand, and it started to look like “normal” bread dough again. It rose really well in the fridge overnight and I was really happy I didn’t throw the whole thing out! When you roll out the dough into rectangles, just make sure to lightly flour both sides of the dough (flip a few times) so it doesn’t stick to your counter when you try to roll it up. I didn’t have any cheese leaking out the side of my loaves (left about a centimeter or two of dough uncovered with cheese on both sides), and this bread tastes and smells awesome!


  41. yaremis on July 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    I have this book and I thought it was amazing until i tried to make bread, i followed the recipes, but it never came out right. after the fifth intent I was so frustrated that I search the web for new recipes, and some were ok, until I found your recipe for french bread I made it and the first try was absolutely amazing, I was so proud of myself thanks to you, of coarse. But my husband accidentally closed the computer tab with your webpage and of coarse i couldn’t remember the name, so let me just say I was really upset so he look very hard for your webpage again going with whatever key word i could remember and lucky me I found you again. I make bread every week twice a week sometimes, and I only use your recipe, so THANK YOU, You have a fan for life.


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