What does comfort food look like to you?
Is it buttermilk fried chicken? A quinoa salad with roasted vegetables? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
To me, comfort food (and all food, for that matter) is simple, fresh, and full of flavor. It's also probably full of butter, cream, or maybe both. It might have white flour, or white sugar, or vegetable oil. If I'm feeling particularly feisty, it may contain lentils, coconut oil, or kale. But probably not.
I think food should be delicious, easy, and healthy, when applicable.
Oh, and my two food idols? Ina and Deb. These ladies have taste. They both love flavorful, hearty, feel-good meals, and I am constantly drooling over their mouth-watering creations. Perfect roasted chickens? Lasagne Bolognese? Plum Rasberry Crumbe? Yes please. I think they regularly read my mind.
So cheers to you, Deb, for creating this insanely awesome and manly pull-apart bread. It's the comfort food of my dreams.
1. This bread is fairly time consuming, so keep that in mind if you're making it for something specific (like a party or potluck). We started the bread on Saturday, the day before the Superbowl, and let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. Then we finished it in the morning before the game. This worked really well for us and didn't seem nearly as overwhelming. Just something to consider.
2. This recipe may look really difficult, but it's actually not that bad. If you're able to make dough rise (which shouldn't be hard, as long as you don't keep your house at 62 degrees *mom*), then you can totally do it. It's also crazy impressive, right?! Try it! Don't be scared.
3. Okay, one more thing. Like I said before, this bread is INSANELY good. I could've eaten the whole thing myself, in one sitting. And I don't even like mustard. Beware! It's that good.
Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
Slightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one 9x5-inch loaf
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup beer (we used Negro Modelo)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup rye flour (we just used more all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Heat butter and 1/4 cup beer in a small saucepan until butter has melted. Remove from heat and add remaining 1/3 cup of beer. Let cool slightly; you will want it warm but not hot.
Next, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low and pour in the beer mixture (save dirty saucepan for later). Mix until flour is moistened, then add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Batter should look lumpy (don't worry). Add remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and the 1/3 cup rye flour (or all-purpose if you're us), mixing until just combined. Take off paddle attachment and put on dough hook. Knead dough on low for 3 to 4 minutes.
Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for about an hour, or until dough has doubled. (You could also put the dough in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and leave it there overnight. Just make sure you take it out the next day and let it come to room temperature for an hour before using.)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Using the same saucepan you used to make the beer mixture, melt butter and then remove from heat. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire, and hot sauce until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, add mustard powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper and stir together. Add cheddar and coat with spices. Put bowl in the fridge until needed to prevent the cheese from melting or getting sticky.
Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Flour your counter and place dough in the center, rolling out to a 20x12-inch rectangle. (If it sticks to the counter, just lift sections of the dough up and place more flour underneath.) Brush dough rectangle with mustard mixture, making sure to get the entire surface coated. Cut dough into five 12x4-inch strips and sprinkle the first strip with 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture. Carefully put another dough strip on top, covering it with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Repeat with remaining strips, including the last. Use all of the cheese.
Carefully, and with your sharpest knife, cut the stack into six or seven 4x2-inch segments (how ever many your dough will allow). We felt it worked best to saw back and forth with the knife rather than just pushing straight down when cutting the stack. Arrange segments in your loaf pan, gently pressing dough to the side to make more room if needed. Make sure dough is evenly distributed in pan, then cover loosely with plastic wrap again and let it rise for another 35-40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf for 25-35 minutes, until puffy and brown. If you start eating it and notice that the middle is still really doughy (like ours was), just put it back in until dough is soft but not wet. Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate.
Serve warm, with a nice cold beer!