Recipe of the Week: Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread


Adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen

One of the “enduring memories” from my childhood is the welsh rarebit my mother served for a quick meal. Melted cheddar mixed with beer, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce served over toast is an ideal supper dish. “Welsh rabbit” she used call it. For many years I wondered what it had to do with bunnies. And I’m sure it was made with milk and American cheese rather than beer and cheddar. Today, it is pub food in Britain and a counter-example to the claim that the Brits can’t cook.

I say “enduring memory” but it is one of those memories that had become dormant until, while combing my favorite food-related sites, I came across this recipe for bread with the precise flavor profile of Welsh Rarebit. I couldn’t resist making it a recipe of the week.

Pull apart bread is fun. There is no knife between you and your addiction. This is best served warm right out of the oven with the beer you used to make the bread.

Recipe is below the fold.

Smitten Kitchen has some process photos. Note that I have modified some of the quantities to boost the amount of filling.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 dark beer, (I used Samuel Smith Brown Ale)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup rye flour (use wheat flour or more all-purpose as a substitute)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature

4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
1 3/4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon table salt
Black pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp supermarket cheddar. I regretted not getting something imported from the British Isles with a little age on it.)


Over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter in 1/4 cup of beer, until the butter has melted.

Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer.

Allow mixture to cool until it is warm to the touch (which may happen quickly if the beer was cold)

In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a standing mixer if you are using one) mix 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and table salt.

Pour in the butter-beer mixture and mix (by hand or with mixer on low) until flour is moist.

Add eggs, one at a time, and combine.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, and mix  until all the ingredients are well-distributed. Then knead for a few minutes (or replace your paddle with a dough hook and let the machine do it for 3-4 minutes on low.)

Oil a suitable bowl, add dough, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until dough doubles in size, 50-60 minutes.

Now prepare fillings.

[You can store this overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before rolling.]

Fillings:Melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Reserve.

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 the cheese is evenly coated with spices.

Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly:Coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan with butter.

Turn dough onto a well-floured counter and roll it into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. The dough is sticky so make sure your counter is amply floured and keep checking to make sure it is not sticking, adding more dough if needed.

Stir the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture. Then, using a rubber spatula or brush, apply the mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. Be diligent about applying over the whole surface to maximize the flavor potential of the dish. (I wasn’t as you can see from the photo]

Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; each should be 12-by-4 inches. Sprinkle the first one evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the grated cheese,

As gently as possible, place another strip on top of it. (When you pick up these strips they will inevitably stretch becoming thinner and longer. Thus, they will not fit neatly over the bottom strip of dough. You can remedy this by cutting off the excess dough at the end of the top piece and adding it to the sides by pressing the dough together as if you were repairing pie dough. Or you can press and pull on the sides of the dough until it conforms to the bottom piece and cutting off the excess length.)

Coat top piece of dough with another heaping 1/4 cup of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.

Gently cut the stack into 6 or 7 two-inch segments. Each segment should be 4-by-2 inches. (It is best to allow the weight of your knife to do the most work so you don’t tear the dough. I found that making the initial cut with a very heavy, sharp chef’s knife, and then using a serrated knife dipped in very cold water to finish cutting through the dough minimized tears. But what works for you will depend on the knives you have.)

Arrange stacks of dough down the length of your prepared loaf pan as if filling a card catalog drawer. Try to distribute the dough evenly in the pan, but don’t worry if the dough stacks do not quite fill the loaf pan. Another rise and the baking process will fill it out. If you end up with too much dough for the pan, you can compress some off the stacks and squeeze it in.

Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, 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 flipping it out onto a serving plate/cutting board.

This is best served warm with beer. It will not readily pull apart once it cools and you will have to slice it with a knife.

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