Birthdays are tricky for the out-of-town daughter. Phone calls and voicemails and packages replace dinners and visits and cake, and we all know that’s a raw deal for the people who raised her. This year, like every year since I moved out of the house, I was in a different city for my dad’s birthday. This year, like every year, it meant for a belated celebration the next time I was in town. That happened to be last weekend, equidistant between his birthday and Father’s Day. I broke out the big guns. He’s not big on cake, so I baked him some bread instead.
My dad and I both works from home offices, which have inherent pros and cons. An undeniable perk to working from home: the smell of baking bread in the oven. And a beer-batter bread that’s layered with cheese, mustard & hot sauce? I’ll work to that.
Notes: Most of the legwork for this bread happens at the beginning, when making the dough & filling. Once that’s out of the way, most of the work happens without you. While the bread bakes, the sauce will concentrate a bit at the bottom of the loaf – if you prefer mellower flavour, consider using only 1/2 or 3/4 of the sauce when you brush it across the dough. Leftovers will keep well in an old bread bag – just microwave the slices you’d like to eat for 20 seconds to soften them and melt a bit of the cheese. If for whatever reason you aren’t sold on a cheddar/mustard filling, switch it up with other beer-friendly flavours & let me know how it goes!
Cheddar, Beer & Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
from Smitten Kitchen
Ingredients – Bread
4 tbsp butter
1/4 + 1/3 cup beer
2 5/6 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or one envelope)
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
Ingredients – Filling
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds of black pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Construct the dough: Heat the butter and 1/4 cup beer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter has melted, remove from heat; add remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. While the butter/beer mixture is cooling, combine 2 cups of flour with sugar, yeast & salt in a large bowl. Stirring after each addition until just combined, add: butter/beer mixture; egg #1; egg #2; 5/6 cup flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes. Place kneaded dough into an oiled, medium-sized bowl, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Stick the bowl in the oven or a cupboard for 50-60 minutes, at which point it should be doubled in size.
3. Make the filling: Melt butter in a small saucepan & remove from heat. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, & hot sauce until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, combine mustard powder with the paprika, salt & pepper. Add cheese & toss to coat. Set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
5. Assemble the bread: Punch down the risen dough. On a floured surface, roll it into a rectangle roughly 20×12 inches. Brush with butter/mustard/Worcestershire mixture. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 5 short strips (about 12×4 inches each). Sprinkle each with the spiced cheese. Carefully stack the strips on top of each other. With the knife, carefully cut a 2-inch strip off the stack; place it, cut-side down, in a buttered loaf pan. Repeat until the entire stack has been reduced to 2-inch strips, squished into the buttered loaf pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and return it to the oven or cupboard to rise for 30-45 minutes.
6. Bake the bread: Bake the bread in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the bread has puffed and the cheese has browned. Cool it for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Flip the bread out onto a cutting board, or tear strips right from the pan. Eat it with everything.