Starting a career in baking means you’ll have to learn all about the different ingredients commonly used in baked goods. Aside from chocolate, there’s one particular item that has grown in popularity among cake lovers and bakers alike: cheese. You don’t have to know the major cheesemakers, but you may want to learn what you can before you start baking with cheese.
Predating recorded history, cheese was invented by accident. It was born from the early human practice of storing milk in containers made from the stomach of animals. Over the years, this dairy product has become widely popular as the perfect partner for wine products and an ingredient for cooking.
In fact, it is not unusual to find such ingredients in bread and other baked products. As proof, below are three classic recipes that use cheese either as a key ingredient or as an added twist to an all-time favorite.
1. Cheddar Cheese Puffs
Made using a pâte a choux dough, cheddar cheese puffs are mouthwatering bites of cheesy goodness that both children and grown-ups will surely love. This recipe yields about a dozen cheddar cheese puffs, making it perfect for picnics and afternoon snacks.
- 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces of butter
- 1 cup of water
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped
- Pepper, freshly ground (add to taste)
Put water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce to medium heat and add flour while stirring rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
Remove from heat and leave to cool for several minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to ensure the even cooling of the dough. Keep doing this until it is still sufficiently warm but not too hot to cook eggs, which you will soon add into the mixture.
Put the eggs one at a time. Stir after every addition using a mixer or by hand using a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly mixed and reaches a creamy consistency.
Next, mix in thyme, grated cheese, and some freshly ground pepper.
While preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, scoop dough using a spoon to create small balls and arrange on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet at least one inch apart.
Bake in the oven for ten minutes. After the time is up, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until it turns light gold and puffed up.
2. Ham and Cheese Pizza
This recipe reimagines the classic sandwich as a cheesy pizza, with a sweet and crisp twist. It has a carefully balanced, rich taste and a palate-friendly combination of savory ham, gooey cheese, and delicious Fuji apple.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided into 3 teaspoons
- 4 ounces of fresh baby spinach
- 1 (about 8 ounces) pre-baked pizza, preferably thin-crust
- ¼ cup low–sodium marinara sauce
- 4 ounces of low–sodium deli ham, diced
- Half-cup (or about 2 ounces) of reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn
- Half-cup julienne-cut Fuji apple (the size of matchsticks)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
While preheating the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, heat a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in spinach, stir frequently and cook until completely wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the pizza crust on parchment paper and evenly spread marinara sauce over it. Then, arrange the ham, spinach, mozzarella, and cheddar over it.
Place the parchment-lined pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for nine minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the cheese has melted or has begun to brown before removing from the oven.
After taking it out of the oven, top with peppers and apple before drizzling with the remaining oil (about two teaspoons). Finally, cut into eight wedges or as preferred.
3. Baked Macaroni With Mortadella and Mozzarella
Love mac ‘n cheese? This recipe gives the crowd-favorite a comforting Italian twist using mortadella and fresh mozzarella.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 pound pork, ground
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- A generous pinch of red pepper, crushed
- Kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 12 ounces of elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons of basil, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ pound mortadella, cut into small cubes
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Heat oil until it simmers in a large saucepan. Sauté garlic and onion over moderately high heat for four minutes or until softened. Add the meat and cook until browned for about ten minutes. Make sure to break up the pork when cooking.
Next, pour wine and cook until it evaporates after about three minutes. Toss in crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and a generous pinch of salt before bringing to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat with continuous stirring until thickened.
In a small saucepan, boil the eggs over medium-high heat for eight minutes. Then drain the water and cool the eggs under running water before peeling. Chop finely.
While preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, cook macaroni on salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well. Then, stir it into the sauce with the parsley, basil, mortadella, eggs, and ¾ cups of mozzarella, and ¾ cups of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Transfer into a three-quart ceramic baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella. Finally, bake for about 25 minutes and set aside for five minutes before serving.
For the Love of Cheese
Children of all ages love cheese, and you’re probably not an exception.
Whether you’re honing your skills at a baking school or simply enjoy cooking with cheese, consider serving your family and friends some cheesy goodness with the recipes listed in this article.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.