The 4 Key Ingredients To Make Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread At Home

With more than 200 Cheesecake Factory locations in 41 U.S. states, there's an above-average chance you've experienced those baskets of warm "brown bread" doled out free to every table. Never mind that the actual restaurant name for these skinny little loaves is whole wheat baguette –– because the universally understood moniker is simply brown bread. It's also known as chocolate bread, a nod to the rich brown color but also to one of the four key ingredients for making your own version at home. 

Cheesecake Factory employees understandably guard the exact recipe, but the ingredients are slightly easier to decipher these days, thanks to the availability of the company's bread in nationwide grocery outlets. The packaged version acknowledges the beloved bread's nickname with a label of "Our Famous 'Brown Bread'" and calls them wheat dinner rolls. But re-creating the unique flavors in your home kitchen still takes a bit of ingenuity and flavor snooping. Fortunately, countless experimental home chefs have given it a go, landing on four key ingredients for simulating the original fan-favorite bread: molasses, honey, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. 

So now there's an answer to long-held questions such as, "Where the heck does that chocolatey brown color and deep flavor come from?" Regardless of Cheesecake Factory's own secret recipe, these four ingredients will get you pretty close to proudly plopping down a fresh-baked version on your own dinner table any time the mood strikes. 

How the Fab Four ingredients make craveable brown bread

Each of the four "semi-secret" ingredients in copycat Cheesecake Factory brown bread contribute to the flavor, color, texture, and aroma, either on its own or in tandem with one another.

Three of the key brown bread ingredients –– molasses, cocoa powder, and espresso powder –– are cloaked in earthy brown hues, explaining the kid-friendly nickname of chocolate bread. The fourth ingredient, honey, typically carries complementary golden hues that, when combined, explain the hallmark color of the bread, both inside and out. 

The full-bodied rich flavor comes from the unique essence of molasses, and cocoa powder enhances the bread's brown coloring while also injecting that subtle chocolate flavor picked up by young bread nibblers. Espresso powder goes hand in hand with cocoa powder to augment chocolate notes and aromas. If you can't find espresso powder, an easy and accessible alternative is instant coffee powder.

Then there's the honey. That sweet ancient "nectar of the gods" earns its reputation in at-home versions of Cheesecake Factory brown bread, tinging it with sweetness while crisping and caramelizing the exterior crust. And those little beige speckles dotting the crust? Those are simple flakes of oat.

Ways to enjoy brown bread

Eating brown bread the "Cheesecake Factory way" is quite simple. It serves as either a prelude or accompaniment to dinner, eaten warm and plain or, more deliciously, spread with butter. For the best pure taste and flavor, use real butter rather than a substitute. But your brown-bread proclivity isn't limited to the dinner table. 

For a brown-bread breakfast sandwich, slightly toast two pieces of the bread, and layer your own fillings for a creative start to the day. Experiment with sausage patties or meat-alternative versions, topped by Roma tomatoes, avocados, spinach, onions, or whatever strikes your fancy. Add a poached or fried egg for a complete breakfast pile-up. 

Cold provolone or smoked cheeses on brown bread, along with some arugula or romaine lettuce, work well for a light lunch. Try making an open-faced lunch toastie with brown bread and jam, honey, or both. Enhance salads by cubing the bread and slow-toasting in the oven for your own homemade salad croutons. For the little ones, make their day with a so-called chocolate bread grilled cheese sandwich.