Baked brie in its most basic form is a wheel of the soft cheese that has been heated in the oven until it has become soft and runny. Brie can be baked only in its own rind, or it can be wrapped in phyllo dough or some other type of pastry crust. The flavor of the baked brie can be enhanced with the addition of nuts, chutneys, honey or other ingredients that do not overpower the cheese. When being served, bake brie is usually accompanied by baguette slices, crackers or fruit wedges, because the almost-liquid cheese requires some instrument to carry it from the plate to the mouth.
Making baked brie is an incredibly easy process. All it requires is to place a wheel of brie in an oven for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the wheel. Although the rind, the hard casing around the cheese, is sometimes capable of holding the cheese inside while cooking, it sometimes breaks, meaning the brie should always be baked in a buttered or greased dish. Wrapping the wheel of brie in pastry dough can solve the problem of brie flowing out all over the oven while also providing a crispy contrast to the soft cheese inside. A more dramatic presentation involves placing the brie in the center of a hollowed out loaf of bread, usually round, with the top part of the rind cut off and then serving the hot cheese in the bread bowl.
Many recipes for baked brie accent either the sweetness of the cheese or the savory aspects of it. For a sweet dish, it is popular to bake the brie with a generous amount of honey on the top. Some fruits also can be baked with the brie and will merge with the cheese as it bakes. Fruits such as sour cherries, cranberries, apples, pears and raspberries are all effective choices. Brown sugar also can be sprinkled over the brie to create a caramel-like coating.
Savory baked brie recipes can have cooked onions or olives included. Spinach can be placed inside a bread bowl with the brie to make a warm, rich appetizer. Dips and sauces, such as jams that have hot peppers in them or vegetable chutneys, can help to draw out the more subtle flavors of the baked cheese.
One frequently debated point about baked brie is whether to eat the rind that surrounds the cheese. It is edible, and some people consider it to be one of the most pleasurable parts to eat. Others do not enjoy eating the rind, because they don't like the texture or they don't like its difference in flavor from the brie. Some cheeses that are mass produced actually use pasteurized milk to make brie, meaning the flavors that would normally develop in the rind are not present. In these cases, the rind can be very tasteless, even when cooked.