Growing up in the South was heaven for a kid. Climbable magnolias and SEC football were everywhere. In our house, Autumn Saturdays were game days, and the living room echoed with curse words and the occasional War Eagle (in different ratios, depending on the year). These days were like something out of the Wonder Years, and any event like this always calls for a particular kind of snack.
You need something delicious and filling, because no real lunch will be served on this day. You need something easily shareable, because all of the other fans that have flocked to your TV will want a taste. This bread is the perfect gameday food.
I mean, let’s run through a quick checklist: Beer- good; Cheddar Cheese- good; Mustard- good; Bread- mmmmmm. How could this possibly go wrong?
Okay, so this recipe isn’t the easiest thing to make. It does require some measuring and some careful instruction-following. But, if you make it to that moment when the bread comes out of the oven, piping hot and smelling delicious, you will feel as if you have just scored a game-winning touchdown.
Beer-Cheddar-Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
for the bread:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup dark beer
2 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 large eggs
for the filling:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (again, vegetarians, you can find an anchovy-free version at Whole Foods)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
parchment paper recommended
First, make 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.
Next, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt. Add in the butter-beer mixture, stirring slowly. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup of all purpose flour and mix everything until just combined. Next, flour the bowl lightly and knead it for five minutes, or until it becomes smooth.
Oil the bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling!
Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 4 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. After the cheese and spices are mixed, store this in the refrigerator to keep the cheese from going soft.
Now comes the more difficult part: assembling the bread. First, coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan with salted butter.
Next, prepare a work surface. Lay down parchment paper, and measure out a 20×12″ rectangle. I have found that marking the edges of this on the parchment paper with sharpie works best. Next measure out 12×4″ within this rectangle, and mark these measurements as well. Then flour the parchment and prepare to assemble the bread!
Flatten and roll the dough into the 20-by-12-inch rectangle. This is a sticky dough, so it helps to repeatedly lift the dough off of the parchment and re-flour it to keep it from binding with the paper!
Next, brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges.
Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; use the 12-by-4 inches measurement on the parchment to make sure these strips are of equal size.
Sprinkle the first one evenly with a generous helping of the grated cheese. Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.
Very carefully, with a sharp, serrated knife, use sawing motions to slice through every two inches of the pile. This should end with 6 or 7 two-inch piles.
Now, carefully arrange the stacks of dough, to stand in the loaf pan. If you have too many to fit (which is what always happens to me), simply push everything down to make more room! It helps while you are stacking to hold the pan upright. Sprinkle the top with any extra cheddar cheese you might have.
Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bake loaf for about 30 minutes, until it is puffed up and brown. Be sure not to let it cook too little, because if you do the dough in the center may not fully cook. Let the cheddar on the outside get nice and crispy before taking it out! If you have a convection oven, you’re better off here.
Serve warm with cold beer. This bread really is best when it’s warm, but you can also enjoy it when it’s cold. I usually slice it up and put it in the oven with some garlic salt on top!