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Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak

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This is a spectacular molecular gastronomy version of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The “air bread” is crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside. It really feels more like a hollow cracker than bread. The air bread is then filled with aged cheddar sauce and topped with an ultra-thin slice of Kobe beef.

It looks like a traditional piece of bread with a slice of beef on top but as soon as diners grab it and feel the unexpected lightness, they start wondering what is going on. After inspecting the Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak for a few seconds, they’ll finally decide to take a bite and discover the crispiness of the hollow bread and the sharpness of the warm cheddar sauce in combination with the Kobe beef slice.

Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak

The Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak is a creation of molecular gastronomy Chef Jose Andres of The Bazaar restaurant in Los Angeles.

Air Bread Ingredients

- 107.5 g (3.8 oz) warm water

- 6.5 g (0.25 oz) fresh yeast

- 2 g (0.05 oz) sugar

- 235 g (8.3 oz) all-purpose flour (better with high protein content, unbleached flour usually contains more protein, look for a flour with about 3g of protein per ¼ cup)

- 2 g (0.07 oz) Kosher salt

- 27.5 g (1 oz) melted butter

- Kosher salt to sprinkle on top

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

- 150 g (5.3 oz) aged Cheddar cheese

- 150 g (5.3 oz) whole milk

- 6 g (0.2 oz) kosher salt

- 4 g (0.14 oz) sugar

Other Ingredients

- Thinly sliced Kobe beef (carpaccio style)

- Chopped chives

Air Bread Preparation

1- Stir together water, yeast and sugar in bowl of stand mixer.

2- Let stand 5 minutes to proof yeast.

3- Add flour, salt and butter and attach to stand mixer with dough hook.

5- Beat on low speed for 6 minutes or until dough comes together and forms a firm ball. If kneading by hand, with the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push and stretch the dough out in front of you, pull it back into a ball, then push out in front of you, pull it back into a ball, then push out and pull back again stretching the proteins and folding air as you work. The kneading by hand process should take about 10 minutes.

6- Remove bowl from mixer, cover and let dough rest in a warm place for 25 minutes.

7- Refrigerate bowl overnight.

8- The following day transfer dough to a warm place.

9- Preheat oven to 230 ˚C (450 ˚F).

10- Line sheet tray with parchment paper or with silicone mat.

11- Divide dough in half and using rolling pin or pasta machine roll out 1 piece of dough about 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick.

12- Cut dough into 1.5 inch squares and place them on sheet tray. Try other shapes too. One that I like is to grab a small piece of dough and with a rolling pin extend it in one direction to form an oval which will transform into a “zeppelin” when it puffs in the hot oven. Since it only takes 6 min to cook, it is very easy to test different shapes before you cook the rest of the dough.

13- Bake for 6 minutes until dough puffs up and turns golden brown.

14- Let cool down on wire rack to room temperature.

15- With syringe needle, punch one small hole in each “air bread”.

16- Store air bread in dry place in sealed container.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce Preparation

1- Shred cheese with box grater and transfer it to a blender.

2- Bring milk to a simmer in small saucepan.

3- Add hot milk, salt and sugar to the cheese in the blender and blend until you obtain a smooth liquid.

4- Pass through a fine sieve and reserve in a covered container in a warm place until ready to fill the “air bread”

Assemble and Serve

1- Fill syringe (without the needle) with the warm cheese sauce.

2- Inject cheese sauce into the “air bread” using previously made hole. Do not over-fill the air bread or it may break.

3- Place a slice of Kobe beef on top of the “air bread”.

4- Sprinkle with Kosher salt flakes and chopped chives.

5- Serve immediately or the “air bread” will get soggy and will not be crispy.

Cheese in crackerServing Suggestions

- Serve the “air bread” without the Kobe beef. Just sprinkle them with Kosher salt before placing them in the oven.

- Spread some grilled onion puree on the air bread and then place the slice of Kobe beef on top.

- Sear the Kobe beef with a kitchen torch.

- Replace the Kobe beef with sliced mushrooms.

  • Rtheidler

    Thanks for posting this, I’ve had this at the Bazaar and I’ve wondering how they made the bread.  The cheese sauce, could I fill it in the ISO whipper and fill the breads that way to give it more of a lighter filling?

    • Anonymous

      That’s a great idea but you may have to change the recipe for the cheese sauce a little bit. Not sure if it is liquid enough to go through the ISI Whip nozzle. You may also need to add more fat, maybe by replacing the milk with heavy cream. If you try it please let us know how it worked! Good luck!

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  • Chris

    So I followed the directions and made the dough last night, but it was extremely firm. Seemed maybe a bit dry. I substituted whole wheat flour to achieve the protein content you suggest. Not much of a change to it this morning after sitting in the fridge overnight. I’ve seen air bread made with regular pizza dough, which is really light and not at all firm. Can you tell me what the consistency of this dough is supposed to be? Do you think maybe using the whole wheat flour could have affected this?

    • QuantumChef

      It is somewhat firm and hard to stretch. Not sure if the flour could be the problem.

    • Chris

      Update on this: The dough unfortunately didn’t work out. Some Google searching led me to Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, where he uses pizza dough to make air bread. It’s worth giving a try, I’m sure. I didn’t have the time so I softened my dough with a bit more water, rolled it super thin, and made my air bread by cutting in little squares, laying one square on top of another, and pinching the edges down to keep a pocket of air in between the two sheets of dough. And that worked.

  • Tracy B.

    I tried this recipe and you can get the dough pretty thin on the smallest setting of a pasta machine. I needed to fold in half and pinch the edges with a pastry knife. It did puff but was quite crispy and firm. I also just wedged out a little hole at the top, poured in the cheese sauce through a small funnel, and covered with mushrooms. It is a lot of work but thank you for the recipe!