Bread Cheese Is the Best Cheese You Haven't Tried Yet

This Wisconsin specialty holds its shape when heated and shines in both sweet and savory dishes.

portrait shot bread cheese on cooling racks
Photo: Wisconsin Bread Cheese from Carr Valley

What Is Bread Cheese?

Based loosely on the Finnish cheese juustolepä, bread cheese is actually grain and gluten-free, but has a custardy bread-like texture with a toasted exterior and soft, creamy center.

While bread cheese is best warmed before serving, don't expect the gooey, melty texture you may get from other semi-soft cheeses — bread cheese holds its firmness in a way more similar to halloumi or paneer when it comes to texture. It's a salty yet mild cheese that works well with a variety of other flavors.

Finnish bread cheese is traditionally made from raw reindeer milk cooked in a wood oven, which is not readily available in the United States. With this in mind, Carr Valley's Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook decided to make a cow's milk version that undergoes a more modern process.

Taste the Technique

Cook's version is pasteurized, first heating the milk and eventually the cheese itself. You'll notice a toasted pattern (like the look of well-done cheese pizza) on the outside. That browning takes place in an impinger oven, a toaster with a conveyer belt typically used to make pizzas or toast sandwiches.

"We give it a blast of high temperature in the oven for a very short time to brown the cheese, but keep an internal temp of 170 degrees," says Cook. It's then cooled down and packaged.

freshly baked bread cheese with steam rising from surface
Wisconsin Bread Cheese from Carr Valley

Although there are similar cheeses out there, Carr Valley trademarked the name "bread cheese" for this special process and one-of-a-kind flavor.

The beauty of bread cheese is that it's a versatile ingredient that works well with both sweet and savory flavors. In fact, in Finland, they eat it with coffee for breakfast! Try it topped with honey, jam, tapenade, or chutney for an elegant charcuterie board addition or snack.

Carr Valley's bread cheese comes in flavors like jalapeno, bacon, garlic, and pizza. There's something for every palate in this tasty array of products.

How to Cook Bread Cheese

There are various ways to prepare bread cheese, from the microwave to the deep fryer. Here are the ways Cook recommends:

Microwave: This is the best way for a quick snack (in fact, they started making bread cheese sticks for that very reason). Simply microwave bread cheese for 10 seconds and devour.

Skillet: Cut bread cheese into small squares and sauté until all sides are well-browned. Eat as is or dipped in a pesto sauce.

portrait shot Finnish breakfast of cheese, buttered bread, and jam
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Grill: Throw a slab of bread cheese onto lightly oiled grill grates for a few minutes per side for a wonderfully smoky effect.

Deep fryer: Bread cheese fries up beautifully batter-free. It's a tasty option for those who are on the Keto or other carb-restricting diets.

Perfect Pairings

Now that you've heated up your bread cheese, what's next? You can certainly eat it as is, but it also makes a great dipping vehicle. Garlic bread cheese is a natural partner to marinara sauce. Maple syrup poured on top of bacon bread cheese makes for a delicious breakfast-themed treat. Bread cheese's firm texture makes it great for kabobs or a sandwich topping. Throw it into a watermelon salad, add it to your next charcuterie plate, or cube it up and add to tacos.

Pair your bread cheese with white wine, beer, or do as the Finnish do and pair it with coffee.

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