Finding this recipe felt like finding a $20 bill in an old wallet. I was relaxing and leafing through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table when it jumped out at me: a quick bread with two kinds of cheese, a whole packet of chives, and a good portion of walnuts. In other words, simple, irresistible, and a guaranteed winner. How could I have missed this recipe the countless times I’d looked through this book? Who knows. Who cares. I wasted no more time before letting the bread exceed my expectations. It’s delicious enough to eat morning, noon, and night. Twice at night, actually: it’s both a great cocktail snack and dinner accompaniment. It’s even seasonally appropriate: you can make it with Irish cheddar and serve it with Guinness at your St. Patrick’s Day party this weekend (or with mounds of bacon at the very necessary morning-after brunch).
It’s no surprise that the bread was a success, as Dorie Greenspan hovers up there with Ina and Martha as a goddess of recipe genius. I’d even say that her dessert recipes are the most consistently reliable of any cookbook author I’ve read. I lean on her guidance for crusts and custards, two “basics” that I used to find impossible, and she’s great for easy sweets, too, like these chocolate candy crunch bars. I’d never tried one of Dorie’s savory recipes, but this cheesy gem was a good segue—it’s just a baked good that happens to be salty instead of sweet.
To make the loaf, it takes a little time to grate and cube the cheese and mince so many chives, but everything plays an important part. The grated cheese distributes into the bread for an even background of sharp cheddar. The cubes of Gruyère scatter and melt into occasional pops of a mellow, nutty flavor. (If you’re tired of all of the cheddar and Gruyère on this site, the recipe is flexible—use the odds and ends in your cheese drawer to create your own combination.) To balance all of the cheese, the chives not only give the bread a necessary bite, they give it a festive, speckled green St. Patty’s Day look.
When I sliced off a warm piece for Ed, he gulped it down with wide eyes, but then squinted at me. “Why haven’t you made this before?” I stared back at him for a second before cracking up. I wasn’t holding out on him, I’d merely breezed by it among the hundreds of recipes in Around My French Table. It was dumb, delicious luck that I noticed it this time. Ed’s feigned indignation faded after a couple more slices and my profuse—and sincere—promises to make this regularly from now on.
cheese & chive bread
adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
A well-wrapped loaf will keep for about three days and it’s best served warm. Although the recipe below calls for grated cheddar and cubed Gruyère, Dorie Greenspan suggests that you could swap in Comté, Emmenthal, or another favorite cheese. You could also switch scallions for the chives or replace the walnuts with pecans.
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ to 1 teaspoon salt (depends on how salty your cheese is)
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¹⁄3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
¹⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (4 ounces)
½ cup cubed Gruyère cheese (2 ounces)
½ cup minced fresh chives
¹⁄3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
Arrange a baking rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8″ x 4½” x 2¾” loaf pan (such as Pyrex).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
Crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until foamy and blended, about 1 minute. Whisk in the whole milk and olive oil until combined.
Pour the egg-milk-oil mixture over the dry ingredients. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently combine just until the dry ingredients appear moistened. Stir in both cheeses, chives, and walnuts. The dough will be very thick.
Guide the dough into the buttered loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (start checking the bread earlier if you’re using a dark metal pan).
Allow loaf to cool in the pan on a rack for 3 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan, carefully flip the loaf upside down on to the cooling rack, then invert it to cool right side up.