Herb and Cheese Bread | Better than Subway Sub

The first time I was introduced to Subway is a controversial story. I was in Geneva, Switzerland in around 2000 to visit a friend, let’s call him Dan, just for a few days and with the main intention of eating good food and imbibing good liquor. I recall 2 of these evenings coming towards the end of the festivities that involved strange eateries. The first involved stopping at the dankest, dirtiest kebab house (a Gyro place for most of you) and attempting to consume the rankest, most vile unknown meat filling. Bear in mind we were in that state of alcohol-induced ravenous hunger that usually means you can eat anything and not regret it until the morning. Yet this meat was inedible and we ended up just eating the pita bread surrounding it before graciously retiring to our respective beds.

So the next night as our activities of the evening were winding down, I was more than a little suspicious of Dan’s recommendation of a sandwich bar that was open late just around the corner. I was, however, pleasantly surprised when we arrived at this small sandwich shop with the word Subway emblazoned across the front.

I had never even heard of the concept of choosing what goes into your sandwich much less heard of a Subway sandwich. I was intrigued at the fact you could choose what main fillings you wanted, what vegetables you required from a vast array of brightly lit and beautifully rainbow colored salad items. And, of course, what bread you wanted! I think my first ever Subway was a meatball marinara on herb and cheese bread and I was hooked from then on.

I clearly recall turning to Dan and saying, “This concept is a fantastic concept – they should open more of these, maybe even franchise it.” He thought I was joking and then incredulously pointed out that Subway was everywhere! I honestly never noticed…

Click here to jump straight to the Herb and Cheese Bread Recipe or read on to get more information and some tips on the method (and maybe a little humor).

Subway Herb and Cheese Recipe

I had an urge for a Subway meatball marinara so I thought I may as well use my Herb and Cheese Bread sub recipe and then use my own meatballs and toppings. It worked very well, even if I do say so myself.

meatballs with parmesanYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: One of my first recipes because it’s one of my favorites is for Easy Perfect Meatballs  made with simple and delicious seasonings and taking only 10 minutes to prep. Then bake for 35 minutes for a beautifully tender, moist ball of meat magic.

How to Make a Herb and Cheese Sub that’s better than Subway

I like baking bread – homemade bread tastes so much better than 99% of the store bought stuff. A good sub recipe is a great recipe to have on hand and the dough can be made in advance and frozen so you have a supply of delicious sandwiches for whenever that Subway urge hits you.

homemade herb and cheese bread

The dough recipe is made up of flour, yeast and water, salt, sugar, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. The butter, cornmeal and parmesan are the toppings. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook then it’s easy work otherwise prepare for your wrists to ache after 15 minutes of kneading…

Here are some of our best tips for making it right first and every time:

Don’t knead too much, but definitely not too little

Getting the right dough consistency is one of the keys to a light, fluffy Subway-like bread. Under knead it and you end up with a flat, dense loaf, over knead it and you end up with a rock hard crust and the inside will crumble as you slice.

Don’t skimp on the parmesan

You might think the amount of cheese topping I use would overpower the bread but trust me it’s delicious and the perfect amount. Use the best quality you can find – an aged parmesan is not wasted here.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing

Sure! I get it! The aroma is fabulous and warm fresh bread sounds ideal but the bread is still baking as it cools and for the right consistency it needs to be left to cool completely. All is not lost! When you slice it, follow what Subway does and toast it under the broiler for 60 seconds.

Italian herb and cheese dough mix

In a bowl combine the yeast and warm water and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Then add the sugar, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and the bread flour. If using a stand mixer then start with just 1 cup of flour and mix on slow for 2 or 3 minutes whilst slowly adding the remaining flour. Then mix on slow to medium for about 8 minutes. If you’re doing this by hand, use a wooden spoon to mix up the ingredients until just combined. Then it’s time for a hard wrist and arm workout for 10 to 15 minutes of hard kneading until the dough is soft and pliable.

Smooth Italian Herb and Cheese Bread Dough

The good news is that there’s a wide spectrum between under and over kneaded and it’s usually only the extremes that cause issues. Under kneaded dough will be harder to shape because it will keep falling flat or “puddling” back when you try to form it. This is most likely to happen if you’re doing it by hand. You have to work it hard for a good 10 minutes until it’s smooth, soft and pliable.

Over kneading is much more likely to happen in the stand mixer. After 8 minutes on a slow to medium speed,, check it and then every minute stop and check. The signs of over kneading are a hard, inflexible dough and, sadly, that’s often terminal for a dough…

Rolling out Italian Herb and Cheese Sub

After splitting into 4 equal pieces. there are two ways to form the dough into the subway shape. The first is to simply roll out into a cylinder around 4″ long. I prefer to roll the dough flat into a 4″ by 5″ rectangle and then, starting with the long edge, roll up like you would a stromboli or a jelly roll, tucking the edges in as you roll. This way helps the dough rise upwards instead of spreading out quite as much and results in a more classic subway shape.

Sub Herb and Cheese Roll

The cornmeal on the parchment paper adds a great familiar flavor to it.

Risen Subway Herb and Cheese dough

After you cover the rolls with a towel and let rise for about 45 minutes they will double in size. Cut a few shallow lines across the top of each loaf and brush with melted butter and sprinkle over the remaining cornmeal.

Parmesan loaded Subway Bread

Liberally cover the tops with the parmesan. Place in the middle of the preheated oven not forgetting to include the baking dish with water on the bottom rack – this is essential as the steam from the water helps cook the outside of the bread so the whole thing cooks evenly. Go and find something to do for the next 25 minutes, maybe make some beautiful meatballs, and then, when golden brown, turn onto a wire rack and force yourself to wait until they cool down fully before eating. Job done!

Homemade Subway Herb and Cheese Bread

And there it is. You can slice it up and use it to dip into my roasted tomato soup or use it as the base bread for a very interesting Welsh Rarebit, or, of course, use my meatball recipe and make a meatball marinara subway sandwich.

Homemade Meatball Marinara Subway Sandwich

Or for the kids – OK, you can have one too! – use a sharp knife to cut out the middle of the top of the roll and fashion yourself a little meatball sub boat!

Meatball Subway Boat

Just looking at my own pictures, I feel the Subway urge coming on, but it’s Creamy Chicken Piccata with a side of Roasted Balsamic Tomato Caprese tonight!!

If you enjoyed this recipe then have a quick look at these, I think you might like them too:

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AUTHOR: The Englishman
Print Recipe
Herb and Cheese Bread | Better than Subway Sub
A light, flavorful, easy to bake Italian Herb and Cheese bread very similar to a classic Subway but I think this recipe has the edge on the original, even if I do say so myself.
Homemade Subway Herb and Cheese Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes plus cooling
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes plus cooling
Homemade Subway Herb and Cheese Bread
  1. In a large bowl, mix the water and the yeast and leave for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Then add the sugar, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and the bread flour.
  2. If you're using a stand mixer then attach the dough hook and mix on a low to medium speed for 10 mins. Or do it the old fashioned way and knead by hand for a solid 10 minutes.
  3. The dough is fairly easy to work with. Divide into four equal pieces and shape each piece into a cube as best you can. Roll into a rectangle around 5" by 4". Beginning with the longer edge, roll the dough with your hands as you would a Stromboli or a jelly roll, tucking the edges in as you go. Pinch the seam and place seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking tray that has been sprinkled with a little cornmeal.
  4. The dough is going to double in size so leave enough room between each one. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave for about 45 minutes to rise.
  5. Whilst the dough is rising place a baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven and fill with 4 1/2 cups of water. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  6. Uncover the dough and brush with melted butter and sprinkle a little cornmeal over it. Cut 4 or 5 shallow slits in each roll and then sprinkle liberally with all of the Parmesan.
  7. Bake in the middle of the oven over the water for around 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool. Eat and enjoy. Meatball subs are my favorite!

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