For the dough:
- 1/2 cup milk (preferably 2 percent or whole), heated to 110-115F
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and shaping
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
For the filling:
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
- Black pepper
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
- In a small bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk milk and yeast until well combined. Let stand 10 minutes or until mixture is slightly foamy.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt and sugar until well combined. Add yeast mixture (or add flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl). Add eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms; OR, in stand mixer, stir with dough hook attachment on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding butter to dough one cube at a time, 10-15 minutes until dough is smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky (add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time if needed). If using a stand mixer, knead dough with dough hook attachment on medium speed, adding butter one cube at a time, 7-10 minutes until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and is smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky (add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time if needed).
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased large bowl; turn once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper (with enough on each end to form “handles”), then spray parchment with cooking spray.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small bowl, combine garlic and lemon juice. When dough is risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a 16×10-inch rectangle, with the longer side facing you. Brush garlic-lemon mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle evenly with herbs, then cheese, then generously season with black pepper. Roll up dough away from you, pulling lightly to form a tight, evenly thick log.
- Use a serrated knife to cut log in half lengthwise, turning each half so layers of cheese and herbs are facing cut side up. Arrange halves side by side, then place one half over the other to form a narrow X. Twist the two ends on one side twice, then repeat on the opposite side to form four total twists.
- Compress twisted dough gently and transfer to prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Heat oven to 375F. Brush top of loaf with egg wash. Bake 30-35 minutes until top of loaf is a deep golden brown. Cool loaf in pan on a cooling rack 15 minutes, then use parchment handles to remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on cooling rack before slicing.