Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

I've recently become obsessed with the website Smitten Kitchen. I mean, how could I not? The pictures are awesome, the write-ups interesting, and the recipes are generally easy to follow. As such, I've been flipping through the archives for entertainment and came across the coolest bread: cheddar, beer, and mustard pull-apart bread. Look at that first picture! Doesn't it make you want to run to the kitchen and bake up a batch? Okay, well, maybe not you, but when we needed something to pair with some soup Jo made Sunday, I decided to give it a try.

Since you should just go to the link to see the recipe, I'll just go through my preparation and pictures instead without many specifics. It starts with combining beer and butter and heating it in a saucepan.
You don't want it to boil or anything, just get it warm enough so the butter melts. I stirred it but I tend to stir everything even if I don't need to. Drives Jo nuts. Once the butter is melted, add the rest of the measured beer.
Set that aside to cool slightly as the recipe says. It's probably not that hot (mine was only like 120 degrees) but you don't want to kill the yeast you'll be adding it to.

In the mean time, mix up the dry ingredients then pour in the beer and butter mixture.
By that point the liquid should be ready so add that to the dry and mix until just combined.
Follow the rest of the recipe until everything is mixed into the dough. I ended up with a really sticky dough and considered adding a little more flour, but I resisted and you should to. Once it rests it'll be perfectly pliable and you'll add a little more flour just as a result of rolling it out. Put it in an oiled bowl and let it rest now.
Forgot to mention, but I decided to use Yards Brawler for this mostly because I had plenty of it in the house. Next time I'll probably use a porter or a stout, but I didn't have any that I wanted to use this time. While waiting for the dough to rise, go ahead and drink the second half of the beer you have left. Or go for a walk. Or nap. Whatever! I think I played video games. Or watched Downton Abbey since my wife is obsessed with it.

Just before you're going to start rolling out the dough and making the bread, mix up the liquids and the cheese mixture. It'll take you a couple minutes but you want to have it ready before rolling out the dough.
Okay, an hour has gone by now. Went pretty fast. Flour the counter well and plop your dough into it. Roll it out according to the recipe, lifting the dough at times to ensure it isn't sticking to the counter. It's important that once you have it at the appropriate size you make sure it isn't stuck since it's the last easy chance you'll have to do so. Jo helped me out with this part since it's easier to have one person lift and the other move the flour underneath it. I think you can manage if you're alone though. Now, it's time for the surgery. Spread the liquid mixture over every inch of the dough.
Next cut it into pieces and then start spreading the cheese on one slice.
And then start stacking.
Hopefully your stacking looks better than mine. Just be aware the dough is pretty thin so when you lift each piece, it may stretch out a bit. Try to lift it from the middle or get help again though it's not a huge deal if it stretches a little. Once done, you'll have a stack of cheese and dough looking somewhat like this. You want one last layer of cheese on top as well.
And finally cut the stack into pieces and carefully slide it into the bread pan.
At this point you let it rest in the pan until it rises a bit.
And finally, you end up with a delicious loaf once all is said and done. I ended up baking it for about 35 minutes but it probably could have used a couple more. Just go by feel and, if it's slightly under-cooked, it doesn't really matter.
I realize it seems like a lot of steps but it really wasn't too difficult. The hardest parts were rolling out the dough without having it stick to the counter and cutting the stack into pieces to slide into the pan. But really even those weren't too bad. As far as the flavor, the cheese and mustard were very noticeable and delicious but the Brawler flavor wasn't. As I said, I'd consider trying a porter or stout next time to see how they affect the result. Still, it was very tasty and we devoured more than half pretty quickly. And, in the end, the bread is awesome and goes with anything really. Give it a try and you'll see!


  1. That looks glorious. Smitten Kitchen's stuff is always so delicious. I don't think I have the baking talent to pull this off, but I'm going to get my girlfriend on it ASAP, haha.

  2. Hah, nice. I'm the baker in the family so I tend to do most of this stuff. My wife could manage it if she wanted though.

    And yeah I love Smitten Kitchen. I'm going to be making Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with mint white chocolate whipped cream and then a Tiramisu cake next week. No beer in them so I won't be writing about it but I can pass on the recipe if you're curious.