Easter is here and we’re celebrating with Cacique Four Quesos Shredded Cheese; four Mexican-style cheeses: Manchego, Oaxaca, Quesadilla and Asadero. A flavorful and truly authentic Mexican cheese blend, shredded for your convenience and packaged in a re-sealable bag. This year, we are taking to our family Easter picnic an easy Cheesy Easter Bread with Jalapeños.
Our big family reunion happens every year at Easter time at a local park. It’s a time for pop-up tents, egg hunts, raffles, egg decorating contest (I won with my high-flying circus act last year), games like the egg toss (we were so close 2 years ago!), little kids running around in their adorable Sunday finery with baskets loaded with toys and chocolate, patiently heating grills and 6 ft. tables lined with shared side dishes and stacked with sweet desserts. Easter gets bigger every year!
I always want to make something special to share with our ever-expanding family. Ground rules: it must taste good, it must be easy (to make and transport), we must have a way to keep it cold or hot (no outlets) and it must be festive. For years now I’ve been making sweet Easter breads, and it seemed time to shake things up. I did just that with Cacique Four Queso Blend to make a savory cheese bread with just a hint of sweetness.
Don’t get the wrong idea: springtime time baking doesn’t have to be hard. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to rise, or proof. Yes, just doing nothing and waiting. This time of year, I can proof dough in my kitchen in about 60 minutes, 40 minutes if I use the proofer function on my oven. When the dough is proofing, spend that time carefully dyeing your “raw” eggs in bold colors. Once the dough is ready, you shape, place the eggs in the middle and bake. Aside from being so dang cute, the yeasty bread rolls have little pockets of cheese and studded with diced jalapeños for a spicy kick in your Easter pants. The bread is soft and tender, and if your taste buds are paying attention, just a little sweet. The bread comes out of the oven browned, just a few shades from being lacquered, with the cheese forming a crispy shell in places.
Now the showpiece: the dyed Easter eggs. Yes, they go into the unbaked dough as you braid or twist the dough. They will set like a hardboiled egg. A lot of people ask me, “Can I eat the egg?” Yes, of course, but please be mindful of the time you let your dough sit out. For instance, I’ll make these fresh on Easter morning, but I’m also taking these to the park where it will be sitting out for hours. Would you eat those eggs? I know my husband will but that comes from childhood where they would eat the dyed Easter eggs days after the holiday. He has a stomach made of steal. The bread can be eaten at room temperature just fine, but a few minutes in foil on the grill (or on a plate in a microwave) will melt those pockets of cheese.
A note on the shaping: It’s a delicious dough…but it’s just dough. Shape your bread any way you like: form a big wreath (14-16 in. diameter) with eggs breaded throughout, or up to 8 smaller wreaths with 1 egg in the middle of each bread, you can braid or twist the dough around dyed eggs, make loaves or, my favorite way, the Estonian Kringle cut, with exposed layers of cheese and dough, with eggs nestled within the braids. This Kringle cut recipe easily yields 4 loaves that can be shared or gifted.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 ¼ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3.5-4 cups all-purpose flour (approximate)
- 1 7oz. package Cacique Four Quesos Blend Shredded Cheese
- 2-3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, diced
- 6 dyed Easter eggs, raw
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk
HOW TO MAKE IT
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix milk, 2 eggs, sugar, butter, yeast and salt until combined, about 1 minute on low speed. With the mixer on low, slowly mix in half the flour until dough starts to come together, about 2 minutes on low-medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and continue mixing in the flour just until the dough comes together and is firm but pliable and just slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. The amount of heat and moisture in your kitchen will dictate how much flour you will use.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and hand knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a large greased mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats and set aside. Punch the dough down and then divide into 4 equal sized pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough in to a rectangle about 12 in. x 4 in. Evenly spread a quarter of the Cacique Four Quesos Blend Shredded Cheese and diced jalapeño over the rectangle. Roll like a burrito and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing 2 bread rolls on each baking sheet.
- Shape your bread any way you like. Pictured here is the Estonian Kringle cut: Using kitchen shears, cut down the length of each strip of dough to within an inch of the end. Some Cheese may fall out and that is okay. Begin “braiding” the dough, making sure to place 2 dyed eggs between the braids of each loaf. Pinch the end to seal. Repeat with remaining loaves.
- Cover with clean kitchen towels and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 20 minutes, until puffy and nearly double their size. Lightly brush the egg wash onto each braid, avoiding eggs as much as possible. Sprinkle with more Cacique Four Quesos Blend Shredded Cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with your favorite cheese dip. We created a dip with 15 oz. of Cacique Crema Mexicana and melted in 1 (7 oz.) package of the Cacique Four Quesos Blend Shredded Cheese and mixed in diced jalapenos. Delicious!