Bread cheese (Finnish: leipäjuusto or juustoleipä; Meänkieli: kahvijuusto; Swedish: kaffeost or brödost), known in the United States as Finnish squeaky cheese, is a Finnish fresh cheese traditionally made from cow's beestings, rich milk from a cow that has recently calved. Reindeer or even goat milk can also be used. Commercially available versions are typically made from cow's milk. The cheese originally comes from Southern Ostrobothnia, Northern Finland, and Kainuu.
Traditionally, the cheese has been called leipäjuusto mainly in Ostrobothnia and Lapland and juustoleipä in Kainuu. Nowadays the two words are interchangeable, but leipäjuusto is the more common spelling. Other dialects have various names (such as narskujuusto) that refer to the way that fresh leipäjuusto "squeaks" against the teeth when bitten.
The milk is curdled and set to form a round disk from two to three centimeters thick. After this, bread cheese is baked, grilled, or flambéed to give it its distinctive brown or charred marks.
Traditionally, bread cheese was dried and could then be stored for up to several years. For eating, the dry, almost rock hard cheese was heated on a fire which softened it and produced an especially appetizing aroma. Even today, the cheese may be dried by keeping it in a well ventilated place for a few days. It has a mild flavour.
Methods of serving
- The traditional way is to serve it as slices, as a side dish with coffee.
- A few pieces are placed in a cup, with hot coffee poured on. The Swedish name kaffeost ("coffee cheese") refers to this.
- Served as diamond-shaped pieces, roughly 5 to 7 cm long and a little less wide, with cloudberry jelly or fresh cloudberries.
- Slices of the cheese are cut into a cup or plate, with some cream poured on the pieces so that they soak a little, some cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over it, and grilled in the oven for a moment. Served with cloudberry jelly.
- In modern Finnish cuisine, diced bread cheese is often used as a mild replacement for feta in various salads.
- As a dessert, bread cheese can be served like Camembert, fried on a pan with butter until it softens, and served with jam, traditionally cloudberry.
- Collectif, Dominique Auzias, Jean-Paul Labourdette, « Cuisine finlandaise », dans Petit Futé : Helsinki, 2011
- Magnus Nilsson. The Nordic Cookbook (2015) 768 pag. ISBN 0714868728, ISBN 9780714868721
- "Levikki - leipäjuusto - Suomen murteiden sanakirja". kaino.kotus.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved August 15, 2022.
- "Levikki - juustoleipä - Suomen murteiden sanakirja". kaino.kotus.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved August 15, 2022.
- Susan Raisanen. Squeaky Cheese: The Ultimate Guide to Making Finnish Leipajuusto. (2016). 52 pag. ISBN 0988947374, ISBN 978-0988947375