This bread is soft and not overly ‘cheesy’ so served it as dinner rolls, paired with anything really.

I was taken to a lovely restaurant just outside Amsterdam. The food was delicious but what stayed in my mind were the bread rolls. Tiny little mounds of rolls were baked and served in ~1/3 cup sized food cans. The eatery had used tomato puree food cans which there must have been plenty of in their kitchen. I was so enthralled by the idea, I went to the grocery store and bought myself 20 cans of similarly sized tomato puree, put them in my luggage and brought them home. I can border on the fanatical when it comes to food. If you have yet to read about my very large food haul from Amsterdam and Paris, here’s the link. I am a champion luggage packer!

You will find the above-mentioned tomato puree food can in my feature image. I also used food cans of varying sizes to bake my bread as it makes such an appealing presentation. A little cute on the dining table can be a good thing.

If you do not want to bake the dough in food cans, it can be baked as a single loaf or into dinner rolls. Choose what suits you best.

MILK AND CHEESE BREAD BAKED IN FOOD CANS OR NOT

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: ~20 -25 minutes baked in food cans. Might be longer if baked as a single loaf or as dinner rolls.
Inactive: ~ 2 – 1/2 hours for bread to rise
Level: Moderately easy if not baking in food cans.
Fiddly if baking in food cans.
Serves:  5 – 6 as dinner rolls
Oven Temperature: 400F (200C)
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Taste best fresh but will keep up to 2 days.
Just the ingredients
~3 and 3/8cups (1lb)(459g) bread flour/all-purpose flour
1 and 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
~1 and 1/2 cups (5.3oz)(150g) shredded sharp cheddar 
~1/4 cup (2fl oz)(60ml) eggs
~3/4 cup (6.4fl oz)(190ml) milk
~1/4 cup (2fl oz)(60ml) water

Ingredients (with my side notes)

~3 and 3/8cups (1lb)(459g) bread flour /all-purpose flour
1 and 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
~1 and 1/2 cups (5.3oz)(150g) shredded sharp cheddar
Substitute with any similar firm shredded cheese of your choice. 
~1/4 cup (2fl oz)(60ml) eggs
~~3/4 cup (6.4fl oz)(190ml) milk
~1/4 cup (2fl oz)(60ml) water

Method

By machine
Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl, then add all the wet ingredients.

Use the dough hook to mix all the ingredients on low speed and work it up to medium-high speed. Start straight away on medium speed and you would be met with a powder puff of flour.

After 5 minutes of machine kneading:

  • if the mix looks too dry, add 1 Tablespoon of water every 2 – 3 minutes until the mix comes together.
  • if the mix looks too wet, add 1 Tablespoon of flour every 2 – 3 minutes until the mix comes together.

Then, continue to run the machine for 5 – 10 minutes. The sides of the bowl would have dough clinging to it, the dough should look smooth and it should feel ‘comfortably’ sticky. Dry dough bake dry breads so it is better if the dough is on the sticky side. Carry out the ‘window pane’ test. Details below.

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Dough is smooth, passes the ‘window pane’ test and even though there is dough still clinging to sides of bowl, this is the time to scrape down and remove from bowl.

By hand

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add the wet ingredients and with fingers of one hand, work in the flour in a circular motion.

  • If the mix looks too dry to gather into a dough ball, add 1 Tablespoon of water every 3 – 5 minutes until the mix comes together.
  • if the mix looks too wet to gather into a dough ball, add 1 Tablespoon of flour every 3 – 5 minutes until the mix comes together.

Then, continue to knead for 10 minutes or until the sides of the bowl is relatively free of dough. The dough should look smooth and it should feel ‘comfortably’ sticky. Dry dough bake dry breads so it is better if the dough is on the sticky side.

When is dough kneaded enough? The ‘window pane’ test.

To determine if the dough has been kneaded enough, test the gluten development with the ‘window pane’ test.
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Pinch off a ball of dough and stretch it. If it stretches smoothly without tearing too soon so that you have a translucent sheet that looks like a ‘window pane’, your dough is ready.

Shape dough into a ball, tuck loose ends under. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise to almost double in size. ~ 1 and 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down, reshape back into a ball, cover and let it rise the second time until almost double in size. The second rise is always quicker. ~ 1 hour.

Choosing size of food cans for baking

  • Firstly, be careful when handling emptied food cans. There might be sharp edges. I have a pair of pliers set aside just to press in any sharp edges flat down. Now a days, there are food cans that use a pull tab to completely dislodge the top of a food can in one piece which translates to less sharp edges and is rather convenient especially if you do not own an electric can opener.
  • Choose small sized food cans. The best size is the ones that are ~/3 cup in size. The small can size(s) not allows for quick and even baking, it makes dislodging the baked bread easier and the bread will be sturdy enough to stand upright on its own if you choose to serve the baked bread outside of the food cans (but then that defeats the purpose of baking in food cans).
  • The narrower and taller the food can, the more challenging it will be for you to plop the dough in it and to dislodge the baked bread.
  • Naturally, you want food cans that have the content information printed directly on the can and not on paper. The latter should never be used… fire hazard, burn baby burn.
  • My favourite kind of food cans to use? Rectangular shaped sardine food cans and ~1/3 cup size tomato paste food cans. Refer to photo on top.

To prepare and shape dough for baking in food cans

Brush the insides of the food cans well with oil. Set aside.

Gently deflate the dough. If you over work the dough it will be difficult to work with it and then you would have to let it rest another 10 -15 minutes before you can return to work on it.

To prevent overworking the dough, I use a pair of scissors to snip off whatever dough I knead.

Once you snip off the amount of dough you knead. Press it gently to get rid of air pockets. Gather the ends under and twist to seal the loose ends. The top should be a relatively smooth ball but if it’s not, that is fine as this dough will bake into a rather smooth dome top. Further instructions outlined below for baking in circular and rectangular shaped food cans.

  • For circular food cans: Fill each food can with a ball of dough that only reaches between 1/3- 1/2 up the height of the food can. Dough should be shaped into a ball with loosed ends tucked under.
  • For rectangular food cans: Shape dough ball into a rectangular loaf. Loose ends should be tucked under, pinch or twist ends to seal. The size of the loaf should only occupy 1/2 of the base area of the food can. Do centre the loaf to allow for the dough to expand outwards to fill the entire base as it rises and bakes.

Set all the filled food cans on a baking tray. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap (oiled on one side to prevent sticking) and let dough rise until almost double its size.

1/2 an hour before baking, turn on the oven to 400F (200c), oven rack adjusted to lower middle position.

Bake for 20 -25 minutes depending on the size of the food cans until tops are golden brown. Smaller ones would have to be removed earlier than others. A loaf that is baked through will sound hollow when the base is tapped.

Leave to cool slightly in tins for 5 minutes. Whilst still warm, with oven gloves (and a palette knife if necessary especially useful for those deeper food cans), remove bread and cool on cooling racks.

If you leave them in the food cans to cool, they will steam inside and the bread will be damp and it will be more difficult to dislodge.

To shape dough into one single loaf or dinner rolls, please scroll down to ‘Tips’. 

Tips

To shape into one single loaf

Tuck loose ends under the loaf, pinch or twist ends to seal. The top should be relatively smooth. The top should be a relatively smooth ball but if it’s not, that is fine as this dough will bake into a rather smooth dome top. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap (oiled on one side to prevent sticking) and let dough rise until almost double its size.

To shape into dinner rolls

Choose the baking vessel. It should have a dept of at least 2″ (5cm) to allow for dough to rise. Grease the insides well.

Determine how many bread rolls will fit into your chosen baking vessel and divide the dough accordingly equally. The dough can be placed touching each other. Once baked, they would rise upwards more than outwards.  To serve, simply pull them apart.
IMG_3504Tuck the loose ends of each ball of dough under, pinch or twist ends to seal. The top should be relatively smooth but if it’s not, that is fine as this dough will bake into a rather smooth dome top. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap (oiled on one side to prevent sticking) and let dough rise until almost double its size.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?
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