Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beer, Mustard, and Cheddar Bread

This is probably not the best way to begin a post, but I was recently hit hard with Norovirus, a nasty stomach bug that put me out for a few days. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom and my smartest move on the whole weekend leaving the garbage can at my bedside. I even took a day off work, something I haven't done in two years. In my sleepy, feverish state, I tried to recall what I could have possibly eaten that could have caused such a violent reaction, only when I shared horror stories with my coworker did I realize I must have picked up the virus from work.

As I recovered in bed, lamenting over my sore back, I even thought of summoning up the energy to bake something sweet. That was wishful thinking. Maybe later this week when I'm feeling 110% better. Instead, I have this beautiful bread to share. It's got a load of heat that will linger in your mouth, so be sure to have some water nearby (I love spicy food, so this bread is right up my alley). It's messy to make and the beer isn't pronounced, but it's totally worth the fluffy, cheesy goodness. Now that my appetite has returned, I could go for another slice of this toasted with a slather of butter.

Beer, Mustard, and Cheddar Bread
Adapted from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen 

I followed Deb's recipe and ingredients but shaped the bread differently. Deb made a pull-apart bread, which is less messier than the way I did it. 

4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup beer (140 ml), preferably dark but really, use whatever you like to drink
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup (40 grams) rye flour (use additional a-p flour if you don’t have this)
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope, 1/4 ounce or 7 grams) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoon (42 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 grams) Dijon or a mustard of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon (3 grams) mustard powder
1 teaspoon (2 grams) paprika
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) table salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 1/2 cups (170 grams) shredded cheddar


For the dough: In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly. You want the mixture warm (110 to 116 degrees), but not steaming hot.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and table salt. With the mixer on low, pour in the butter-beer mixture, mixing only until the flour is moistened. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. The batter will look lumpy, but will become smooth in a moment. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, mixing until just combined. Replace paddle with a dough hook and let the machine knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes on low.

Oil a medium/large bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare fillings.

[Do ahead: You can also rest the dough in the fridge overnight — wrapped tightly with plastic. The next day, let it rest at room temperature for an hour before rolling out.]

Make the filling: Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce until smooth. Set aside.

In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. I like to keep this in the fridge until needed so it doesn’t get soft and clumpy, making it harder to sprinkle over the dough in a bit.

Assemble bread: Either coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan lightly with butter or a nonstick spray and set aside.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle, making sure it doesn’t stick to the counter by lifting sections and re-flouring the counter as needed. Brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. 

Cut the dough crosswise evenly into 3 strips, take the first strip and cut into 3 more evenly sized strips. Sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, braid the 3 smaller strips, attempting to keep the cheese all together. Repeat this for the other 2 pieces until all the cheese is used. Finally, braid all 3 braided pieces together  (I realize this is the messiest step in the recipe, the cheese doesn't really stick and goes everywhere, this doesn't have to be perfect, just try to keep the cheese together and it'll be fine once it's baked). 

Stick the entire dough into the prepared pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap, set aside to rise again for 30-45 more minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake loaf for 25 to 35 minutes, until puffed and brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before taking it out onto a cutting board. Wrap leftovers in plastic and keep at room temperature for a day. 

Recipe here!

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