Cream cheese appears with regularity in yeasted breads and pastries as a filling, paired with sugar, fruits or other sweet things. Less frequently, I’ve seen cream cheese used in savory pastries, paried with prosciutto, sundried tomatoes or with herbs. This bread was created when I decided to try using cream cheese as one of the main components of a bread, rather than as a filling of some kind.
I softened my cream cheese to room temperature and then incorporated it into a fairly standard white bread type of recipe. Since cream cheese has a relatively high fat content, I didn’t add in any butter, but I did add some dried dill to the bread to give it a nice herby flavor. Everything came together smoothly and the resulting dough was beautiful to work with – not too sticky and very elastic. I baked it in a loaf pan and couldn’t wait to slice into it as soon as I could smell the aroma of fresh-baked bread wafting from the oven.
In the end, I was really pleased with how the bread turned out. The loaf rose up beautifully and took on a lovely golden color on the top crust. The crumb was fairly tight and very, very soft. You couldn’t really taste the cream cheese at all in the finished loaf and I suspect that you would never guess what it was that made the interior so moist and tender without being told. The cream cheese acted almost like butter in its role as a tenderizer, but since the bread had no butter flavor, you were left with the sweet taste of white bread and a lovely dill overtone.
This bread made great sandwiches, especially when it was toasted. Chicken and turkey were both excellent, and I’m sure that pork would suit the bread fine, too. I used dried dill as I find it to be the most convenient to work with, but you can use fresh or experiment with other herbs instead if you prefer.
Dilled Cream Cheese Sandwich Bread
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried dill
3-4 cups all purpose flour
Combine yeast, cream cheese, 1/4 cup of water and about 1/2 cup of flour in the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment is best). Mix until very smooth. Add in the rest of the water, the salt, the dried dill and about 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix until combined. Using the dough hook (or stirring by hand from this point), add in remaining flour, mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is no longer wet or overly sticky. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes, until smooth an elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface again and gently deflate. Shape into an oblong loaf, tucking the loose ends under the rest of the bread, and place into prepared pan. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 50-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
Bake risen bread for 40-45 minutes, until the top of the loaf is golden and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the bread reads at least 200F. I take mine out of the pan and bake it directly on the rack for the last 5 minutes to crisp up the edges.
Remove bread from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.