Making your own bread: Start with Peter Reinhart’s soft cheese bread

When I started baking, the idea of making my own bread had never crossed my mind. After all, bread is easily available from supermarkets and neighbourhood bakeries, and making bread seems labour intensive. Furthermore I am not a big “bread eater”.

Everything changed when I got seriously sick not too long ago. I was only having plain rice porridge and water, and my tastebuds became super sensitive. My dad got me a loaf of bread from the supermarket to fill my stomach. It was the one of the most awful things I’d ever had. The bread was bitter and floury. Despite being sickly and hungry, I immediately spat the bread out. It was then I decided, I would avoid store bought bread and make my own.

For a beginner (like myself), I started with Peter Reinhart’s soft cheese bread as I felt it was not an intimidating recipe. The recipe does not call for long hours of proofing and there is not a lot of kneading involved. You can use this recipe to make the bread into a loaf, bread rolls or even a free-form bâtard. For those experienced bakers (or people who are more courageous), you can play around with the ingredients. Instead of cheddar cheese, you can choose to use Gruyère, Comté or a mixture of everything. In my case, I even mixed in cumin powder with the cheese. Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika or black pepper are alternatives as well.

To start your bread making journey, you will also need to equip yourself with one tool that I think is essential and even critical – the thermometer. You will need two types of thermometers – the oven thermometer and the meat or cooking thermometer. Though you may preheat the oven before you bake, there are times when you may not realise that the temperature has dropped. With an oven thermometer, you will know precisely the right time to put in the loaf. This is crucial as any drop in temperature may cause your loaf to sink. To help you gauge when the bread is ready, you’ll need a meat or cooking thermometer. Check whether your bread is done by sticking the thermometer in the middle of the loaf and see if it hits the right temperature (as stated in the recipe). This is especially useful if you are a beginner to bread making. These two types of thermometers are inexpensive and you can use them for your daily cooking or baking, so it’s worthwhile investing in them.

Making your own bread may seem like a gargantuan task and it can look quite intimidating and time consuming (well, this is sort of true). However, there are many types of bread you can bake depending on your schedule – from the basic soda bread (which literally takes 30 minutes to make and bake) to this simple soft cheese bread.  And once you have a taste of your own homemade bread, you will not be able to stomach the ones from the supermarket.


About Mandy Ng

Mandy’s journey into the culinary world began out of necessity–a means of survival whilst she was at university. She believes cooking should be simple and fun. Besides spending time in the kitchen whipping up hearty meals, Mandy also dreams of having a bottomless stomach that she can fill with all kinds of delicious things.