Three Cheese Plaited Loaf

Servings: About 12 – 15 good size slices                     Difficulty: reasonably easy
Time: 30 minutes hands-on, 2 hours proving time, 30 – 40 minutes baking

If you like good wholesome bread and classic British cheeses this loaf is definitely for you. It’s unusual, interesting, tasty and very cheesy – in the nicest possible way.

The actual bread recipe is a good basic easy one, but feel free to vary it. Maybe try all white bread, or different cheeses.


    For the two white plaits
  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt (Use less if the cheese is salty.)
  • 7g instant dry yeast
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250 – 270ml tepid water
  • 40g Cheddar, grated
  • 40g Red Leicester, grated
  • For the single wholemeal plait
  • 60g strong white bread flour
  • 140g wholemeal bread flour
  • 5g salt (Use less if the cheese is salty; Stilton tends to be.)
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 20g unsalted butter, softened
  • 140 – 150ml tepid water
  • 40g Stilton, crumbled


    Two mixes – same method (wholemeal dough & white dough)
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Make sure the salt and yeast do not come into direct contact at this stage.
  2. Mix in the softened butter.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in most of the water, reserving some to use later if necessary.
  4. Mix to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 – 15 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic. (Or use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment – on slow – for about 7 – 10 minutes)
  6. Place each piece of dough in a separate, oiled bowl. Turn the dough balls over a few times to lightly coat with oil. Cover the bowls with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a draft free area for about an hour for the dough to rise and double in volume.
  7. When both doughs have risen, place each on a lightly floured surface and “knock back”, punching out any air pockets. Knead each one for a few minutes.
  8. Weigh the wholemeal dough and make a note; weigh the white dough and divide it into two equal pieces. You should have three pieces the same weight. If not, adjust them.
  9. Mix in the three cheeses as follows: white dough 1 – Cheddar; white dough 2 – Red Leicester; wholemeal dough – Stilton.
  10. Cover a large baking tray with baking parchment and flour it lightly. Roll each piece of dough into a “sausage” of equal length and thickness, making sure they will fit onto the baking tray. (Maybe go diagonally.)
  11. For a three-strand plait, line up the three sausages parallel, with the wholemeal in the middle. At the starting end, pinch the three plaits together firmly. Bring the left outside strand over the middle strand, then the right hand strand over the new middle strand. Continue plaiting left then right, always over the middle strand. Keep the plaits as tightly together as possible. Pinch the end together and wrap under the loaf. Carefully, place the loaf on the baking tray.  If necessary, use a large cake lifter or similar item to avoid breaking the loaf.
  12. Place the baking tray inside a plastic bag*. Inflate the bag and wrap any loose material under the baking tray to create a sealed micro-climate for the second rise to take place. Leave it somewhere draft free and warm for about 30 – 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/400F/Gas 7.
  13. When the loaf has risen, place it in the hot oven. Bake for 10 -12 minutes then lower the heat to 190C/fan 170C/375F/Gas 5. Continue baking for 20 – 30 minutes. Check after 20. If it’s baked there will be a hollow sound when the loaf is tapped underneath. (Take care not to break the loaf when you turn it over. One way is to cover it with a tea towel and roll it over before tapping it.
  14. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  15. * The white swing bin liners are ideal.