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Judges say Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists makes an ideal quick comfort food.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

June 13, 2023

6 Min Read
Cheese Lover's Barbecue Bread Twists
CHAMPION: Gloria Piantek of West Lafayette, Ind., was named the 2023 Best of Breads Champion during the June 1 virtual National Festival of Breads. Her original recipe for Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists combined three types of cheese, sweet and smoky seasoning rub, and crunchy smoked almonds into an entry that wowed judges.Courtesy of Kansas Wheat

Cheesy comfort food reigned supreme at the 2023 National Festival of Breads.

Gloria Piantek of West Lafayette, Ind., was named the 2023 Best of Breads Champion during the June 1 virtual festival. Her original recipe for Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists combined three types of cheese, sweet and smoky seasoning rub, and crunchy smoked almonds into an entry that wowed judges.

Cindy Falk, co-chairperson for the festival and nutrition educator for Kansas Wheat, called the entry a “cheesy comfort food fantasy.”

“The creative ingredient combinations, the circular twisted shape and the undeniable taste made this recipe rise to the top of this year’s entries,” Falk said in a press release.

Piantek said she wanted to develop a recipe that would be easy for a new baker to try, while still offering a powerful punch of flavor. Her cheesy twisted bread hit those points, she said. The recipe was also named the finalist in the Say Cheese category and won the People’s Choice award from online votes from around the country.

“This is a real fooler of a recipe,” Piantek said during the festival broadcast. “The dough mixes up really easy. It’s just like working with a pizza crust.” The forgiving dough makes it an ideal recipe to try for beginning home bakers. And it can be adjusted easily as well, she added.

“Clip some herbs and sprinkle over to make it pop,” Piantek advised. “You make this the way you want to make it.”

The Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists use a circular twisted shape, ideal for sharing at a party or a tailgate as a centerpiece, Falk said. Bakers can also add a dish of melted cheese in the middle to add to the cheesy goodness.

Home baking celebration

The National Festival of Breads is the nation’s only amateur bread-baking competition celebrating the creativity of America’s home bakers.

“Back in 1990, the Kansas Festival of Breads started as a humble statewide competition,” Falk explained.

“After 16 years, the popularity and success of the event prompted the Kansas Wheat Commission to open it up nationwide every two years, inspiring thousands of amateur home bakers in nearly every state across the country to develop new yeast bread recipes and be rewarded for their baking skills, techniques and creativity.”

The biennial festival went to a virtual format in 2021 in response to the pandemic and continued as an online celebration in 2023 as well. Baking fans joined the celebration over the live broadcast on Facebook and Zoom. Each finalist shared their home baking advice and helpful tips for their recipes. And viewers were also treated to a bread-baking demonstration from King Arthur Flour, a sponsor, and a video detailing the field-to-pantry journey of wheat flour. The recording, as well as past years’ winning recipes and more home baking advice, can be found at www.festivalofbreads.com.

Piantek joined a slate of finalists that also included:

  • Go Nuts category finalist Marian Evoniuk, Austin, Texas, with her Mocha Coffee Pecan Babka

  • Quick & Easy category finalist Carol Adamek, Dallas, with her Nutty Pumpkin Cranberry Dinner Rolls

  • Wholesome & Healthy category finalist Susan Wiebe, Pittsburgh, (Pa.) with her Knotty 7 Grain Rolls

Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists

The 2023 National Festival of Breads Best of Breads Champion was awarded to Gloria Piantek, West Lafayette, Ind., for her original recipe, Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Bread Twists. The recipe makes 20 twists, and Piantek notes for the barbecue seasoning rub, she uses the Private Selection brand “Kansas City Inspired Seasoning Rub.”



3¾ cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour plus 2 tablespoons, divided

1 (¼-ounce) package Red Star Platinum Superior baking yeast

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning rub (sweet and smoky)

1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon dry minced onion

¼ cup smoked almonds, finely chopped

Barbecue Cheese Filling:

1 (8-ounce) container chive and onion cream cheese spread, divided

¼ cup dry minced onion

1 tablespoon beaten egg (reserve remaining egg for topping)

2 teaspoons barbecue seasoning rub (sweet and smoky)

2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

2/3 cup (2 ounces) grated pepper jack cheese


1 teaspoon water

Remaining egg from filling

1/3 cup smoked almonds, chopped

Cheese Dip:

5 ounces processed cheese, such as original Velveeta

Remaining chive and onion cream cheese spread


1½ tablespoons chopped smoked almonds

Barbecue seasoning rub (sweet and smoky), as desired


For dough: In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine 1¾ cups bread flour, dry yeast, brown sugar and barbecue seasoning.

Heat almond milk and butter to 120 to 130 degrees F. Pour into mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg, onion and almonds; beat 2 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes. Scrape down dough. Exchange paddle attachment for dough hook. Gradually beat in enough remaining flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 5 minutes. (Reserve 1 tablespoon flour for rolling dough.) Place in greased bowl; turn dough to coat both sides. Cover; let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes. Then prepare the filling.

For filling: In medium bowl, combine ¾ cup cream cheese spread, minced onion, 1 tablespoon egg, barbecue seasoning and almond milk. Cover and set aside.

Deflate dough; place on lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll one portion of dough into a 13-inch circle on pastry mat. Move to a parchment-lined 15-inch round pizza pan. Place a 3-inch round cup in the center of dough. Spread filling over the dough up to the cup, leaving ½-inch border around edge. Sprinkle grated cheese over the cream cheese mixture. Add 1 teaspoon water to reserved egg. Lightly brush egg wash around outer edge of dough; remove the cup.

Roll the second portion of dough into a 13-inch circle and place over filling. Lightly press edges to seal. Place cup in center; mark 20 equal segments around the circle. Cut 20 strips with a knife or scissors from the edge to the cup. Twist each strip twice, laying the strip end flat onto the pan; remove cup.

Lightly cover with plastic wrap; place in warm place to rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Remove plastic wrap; brush dough with remaining egg wash. Sprinkle almonds over dough, avoiding center circle.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, and internal temperature is about 200 to 204 degrees. Rotate pan halfway through baking. Remove bread from oven; indent the center crust with a heat-proof cup. Let cool on pan 5 minutes; then transfer to wire rack. Remove parchment paper and finish cooling on rack. Move to large serving platter.

For cheese dip: Before serving, place processed cheese and remaining cream cheese in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on half power until cheese melts, about 1½ minutes; stir until smooth. Spoon hot melted cheese into indented center of bread; sprinkle with remaining chopped almonds and lightly sprinkle with barbecue seasoning. Before serving, use kitchen shears to cut the 20 bread twists apart. Store any leftover bread in the refrigerator.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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