Cheese and Tomato Loaf

My grandmother was born on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. She loved a good loaf of bread, not so much the typical Irish soda bread but one made from heavier dough with lots of flavours added in. This pull-apart loaf, an homage to her, is exactly that.

It starts with the same base as the mouthwatering deep-fried nodini (literally, little knots) served at Bar Buca in Toronto: pizza dough. (You can use fresh or frozen; I prefer whole wheat, but white is also fine.) I use the same method Bar Buca does of shaping the slices into little knots, though the bread here is baked, not fried.

Using store-bought pizza dough means the loaf comes together quickly, and the umami hit of the tomatoes, cheese, capers and garlic makes it hard to stop eating.

If Irish cheddar is unavailable, you can substitute old cheddar. And don’t worry about the chili flakes – rather than making the bread hot, they give it zing.

Serve this with beer as a party snack or alongside a green salad or bowl of thick, Irish potato-and-spinach soup for brunch or supper.

Servings: 8


  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Irish Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough


Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place them cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned but not dried out.

Grease a large loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

Combine cheese, capers, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and chili flakes in a large bowl. Stir in remaining oil.

Place pizza dough on the counter and gently pat into an oblong shape. Cut into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a small rope, then tie each into a knot. Add knots to oil mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer knots to loaf pan. Scrape any remaining mixture over the top. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Serve warm.