This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, and it's pretty fantastic. I'm not really a fancy cheese girl, so I used cheddar instead of gruyère. Despite the wordy directions, it's a very easy recipe.
Quick Cheese Bread with Bacon, Onion, and Gruyère
Makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded on large holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
5 slices of bacon (about 5 ounces), cut into ½-inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, minced
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyère cheese cut into ½-inch cubes, or mild Asiago, crumbled into ¼- to ½-inch pieces (about 1 cup)*
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
3/4 cup sour cream
*If using Asiago, choose a mild supermarket cheese that yields to pressure when pressed. Aged Asiago that is as firm as Parmesan is too sharp and piquant for this bread.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 5 by 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly in bottom of pan. I recommend lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. The first time I made this recipe, I didn't use parchment and the bread stuck to the bottom of the pan.
2. Fry bacon in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate and pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon fat from skillet. Add ½ medium onion, minced (about ½ cup), to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; set skillet with onion aside.
3. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper to combine. Using rubber spatula, mix in Gruyere, breaking up clumps, until cheese is coated with flour. Add bacon and onion mixture and stir to combine. In medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and sour cream. Using rubber spatula, gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (batter will be heavy and thick). Do not overmix. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; spread to sides of pan and level surface with rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup Parmesan evenly over surface.
4. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes; invert loaf from pan and continue to cool until warm, about 45 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.
If, when testing the bread for doneness, the toothpick comes out with what looks like uncooked batter clinging to it, try again in a different--but still central--spot; if the toothpick hits a pocket of cheese, it may give a false reading. The texture of the bread improves as it cools, so resist the urge to slice the loaf while it is piping hot. Leftover cheese bread is excellent toasted; toast slices in a toaster oven or on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, not in a conventional toaster, where bits of cheese may melt, burn, and make a mess.
Freezing Instructions: Although the recipe title Quick Cheese Bread is no misnomer (the batter is in the pan in 15 minutes), when you add time for baking and cooling, the recipe does require a total of two hours. Luckily, like many of our other bread recipes, a baked loaf of cheese bread freezes beautifully, meaning a warm loaf need be only minutes away. To freeze the bread, wrap the cooled loaf tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and place in the freezer; it will keep for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve the bread, place the frozen, wrapped loaf on the middle rack of a preheated 375-degree oven and heat for eight to 10 minutes, until the loaf yields under gentle pressure. Remove the foil and return the unwrapped bread to the oven for five minutes to crisp the exterior. Take the bread out of the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes to make slicing easier. Enjoy.