I have updated this recipe, please click the new image at the bottom of this post to head to the new recipe page. I didn’t put it at the top because some people scroll right to the bottom and I didn’t want them to miss it. Thanks!
Every year when we go to Florida we devour The Cheesecake Factory Bread – it’s basically the sole reason we go eat there. Before the food even hits the table, Oliver, Anna and I absolutely destroy that sweet brown bread. We can’t get enough of it. The little mini loafs are so soft and squishy, warm out of the oven, and just begging for butter. They’re pure heaven.
Grocery shopping on Friday, with Oliver home from school, I realized that when he’s asking me to buy him “his” bread (a whole wheat loaf with oats on top), that he was trying to get that bread from Florida (it’s taken me two years to figure this out, some days I’m not the quickest, you know). That was all I needed, it was time to figure it out for him.
And holy shit, on the first try, I nailed it – the perfect Cheesecake Factory bread! Usually, this would take me a dozen attempts, but something was on my side during my googling, and for the first time I guesstimated all the right changes from the existing recipes, reviews, and descriptions I found. This is it, every bite brought both of us right back to Florida, and we couldn’t stop eating it. Even Bo, who hears “whole wheat” and automatically shuts down, was caught eating it. I’m telling you, for that alone, I deserve a medal!
The recipe – it sounds crazy when you’re reading through it. Cocoa powder? Coffee? Molasses? Food coloring? Ridiculous right? I mean, you’re trying to make The Cheesecake Factory Bread, not some new latte. But it’s just the littlest touch of them, and that’s what makes it. I know, enough blabbering, you want pictures. You need to see it to know…
After the recipe you can see a picture of them just before their second rise, to get an idea on size and shape. Also, the food coloring (or caramel coloring if you have it) isn’t necessary at all, it’s a purely aesthetic addition to get you that nice brown colour you know and love. The Cheesecake Factory Bread uses McCormick’s Caramel Coloring in their loafs (so google tells me), but without it, the taste is still just as good!
Want more delicious bread recipes?
Love bread? If you’re looking at the Cheesecake Factory bread and thinking “I’ve really got to start making bread more often”, yes, you do. That’s the trap I fell into too! This is the first bread I started making regularly because it’s SO EASY! I keep the recipe taped inside my glasses cupboard because I make it all the time! My crusty, rustic, no knead bread truly has no kneading, no fuss, and it turns out perfect every time!
After years of making this recipe, I’ve decided to update it a bit. Keep reading to find out why I originally fell in love, then head over to the new post here, and enjoy the bread – it’s still our favourite!
Here’s the original Cheesecake Factory Bread recipe:
- 1½ cups warm water (105ºF)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2¼ tsp instant dry yeast (1 package)
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1¾ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp espresso powder (or coffee)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tbsp molasses
- caramel colouring, or dark brown food colouring (optional)
- ¼ cup cornmeal, for dusting the bottom of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
- oats, for dusting the top of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
- In a medium bowl, mix together the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof (it will be foamy on top at the end).
- Using the paddle attachment in your stand mixer, whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, butter, honey, and molasses. Also, add your food coloring here if using. You can adjust the colour while it's kneading, so just add a little at a time. Mix on medium-low speed until combined. The dough will be fairly thick and a little tacky.
- Swap out to the dough hook, and knead on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes. This dough is thicker than your standard white bread, so it will be a little tacky, but will not pull or stick to the bottom of the bowl while kneading (but will when the mixer is stopped).
- Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise is a warm spot for two hours, until doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces, and shape into mini-baguette style logs, roughly 6" long and 2" wide. See below notes for directions on this.
- Place the cornmeal on a plate (if using), and set the loafs in it to lightly coat the bottom. Place the loafs on a lined baking sheet, with lots of space between them. Lightly wet the top of the loafs with your hand and some water, then sprinkle on a light dusting of oats. Spray the tops of the loafs with Pam (to keep the wrap from sticking), then cover VERY loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for another 60 to 90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size again.
- Bake in a 350ºF oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The crust will be soft and squishy to the tough. Bread is cooked when the internal temperature is 190ºF, so feel free to use an instant read thermometer to check.
- Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. If baking ahead of time, store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap once completely cooled, for up to 2 days, though it's best eaten the day baked. Gently warm in the oven before serving.
With the flour - Some days I find that I need to use more flour (probably depending on the weather, or how packed my cups are). the key is to have the dough feel tacky, but NOT sticky - none of it should stick to your fingers when you give it a squeeze.
For shaping mini-baguettes:
Use your fingertips to pat the dough into a rectangle, about 4" across. Fold the top 1/3 down, like a letter, and press the seam into the dough with your fingertips. You'll see that you're creating some friction at the top, this is good!
Fold the bottom up over the top, tightly, and press to seal again.
Without a stand mixer:
Whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, butter, honey, and molasses. Also, add your food coloring here if using. You can adjust the colour while it's kneading, so just add a little at a time. Knead for about 10 minutes until combined. The dough will be fairly thick and a little tacky, but pieces shouldn't stick to your hands.
Continue with the recipe at step 4.