2010/01/20

Fairies be banished... Cheddar Bread to save the day

Good news first.  We are having a heat wave, baby!!!!  Check out those blazing winter temperatures up here in the "North Country".  WOO  HOO.  Also, Union's Ice Hockey team is #1 in ECAC - their Saturday night defeat of RPI (aka, the "Waldos") was a thing of beauty.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that they knock out  both Harvard & Dartmouth this weekend.  It's exciting to have a local team having such a successful season. 

Ok.  Back on track.  After the bread fairies obliterated me on Saturday, I knew that I need to stop licking my wounds over the RYE GONE WRONG and get back into the game.  (I finally gave up on the pucks and tossed them to the curb - sometimes you just have to let a hopeless cause go).  It was time to get back in the bread game.  What to make, what to make?  I can tell you one thing - it was not going to involve rye flour in any way, shape or form...  I opened up my refrigerator for inspiration (no, I have no clue why I looked in the refrigerator when I was planning on making bread) and saw several blocks of Wisconsin cheddar that had come my way.  One of them was reserved for mac-n-cheese, but there was way more cheese than I was going to let sit around for noshing.  AH HA!  Cheddar Bread w/ hot sauce...  A slice of this bread in the toaster with a little bit of butter (and it would go sooo good with mac-n-cheese).  OOOHHH.  Almost better than a piece of Italian pastry.

Cheddar Bread

1 12 oz bottle of beer (preferably lager or stout)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tbs salt
Tbs unsalted butter
16 oz cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes, divided
1 1/2 Tbs instant yeast
4 1/2 - 5 cups unbleached, all purpose flour


 In a medium saucepan, combine beer, water, sugar, salt, butter & 1/2 of cubed cheese and heat through until cheese has mostly melted.  Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. 

In mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour & yeast.  Pour warm cheese mixture into flour/ yeast mixture & beat w/ flat beater of mixer for ~3 minutes.  Add remaining flour by 1/2 cupful until shaggy mass (adding last cup or so 1/4 cup at a time) -- some dough may still be sticking to sides of the bowl.  Stir in remaining cheese cubes and switch to dough hook & knead for ~8-10 minutes.  By the time you are half way through the kneading cycle, dough should no longer be sticking to the side of the bowl.  Place dough in greased bowl, cover & let rise until doubled (1-2 hours depending on warmth of dough & kitchen).  This dough is a beautiful rise - really nice to work with. 



 After dough has doubled in size, remove from bowl & form into loaves (2 8x4 greased loaf pans).  Loaves can be braided or shaped into traditional loaves.   Cover and let rise until ~1" above the pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for ~45 minutes, until bottoms sound  hollow when tapped.  If tops are browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.  It helps to rotate loaves during baking and remove them from their pans the last five minutes or so to finish off the bottoms of the loaves.  Remove from oven & let cool completely before slicing.  


Be warned, your house will smell like "Cheese-Its".   The crumb on this bread is absolutely tender & chewy and loves, loves, loves a nice dab of butter on it after it has been toasted.  One bite of this and those mean bread-fairies will pack up their wings and head for the hills (at least until the next time you provoke them...)

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