cheddar beer bread rolls
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The best beer bread has a little cheese added to the dough; and Cheddar is a particularly good match in beer bread rolls. And what type of beer? Easy – unlike with wine, use the ale that you’re not so keen on drinking.
Using beer in bread making is going back to the roots. After all baker’s yeast is a by-product of beer making and for hundreds of years you had to brew beer or wine first in order to get the yeast to leaven bread. Mankind has always had their priorities right.
I have witnessed a passing passion for beer making at home (or ‘home-brew’ as derogatorily described by friends), when The Weather Man was all hopped up and the house smelled of malt for days on end. The results varied, but clearly that’s one avenue where homemade isn’t superior.
Goodness, did I have plenty to bake bread with back then. Alehouse rolls, morning baps, onion loaves were kneaded and fashioned every week; but as there’s only so much bread you can bake (and eat), the slugs on a vegetable patch had some fun too at the end of the barrel.
Allegedly you can utilise the residual ‘yeast cake’ – horribly pongy sediment left over after beer filtration – but it was NOT a success. Clearly I’m not a natural born baker who will embrace ancient ways with brio. Clearly I’m resigned to buy my yeast from the shops.
I found this recipe in the invaluable NY Times Cooking but halved the size of the rolls: by the book they would be really little loaves, rather than rolls. They will merge together nicely if you have ideally-sized baking tray: 9 x 13 inch (23 x 34cm). But even if they are only just kissing, like mine, they are still going to be irresistibly tasty.
I have subsequently baked them with no Cheddar topping so they didn’t burn when toasted for a burger; replacing about 25% of the flour with wholemeal, for better gut health; and using darker beer, like stout. What can I say? These are complete winners every time.
cheddar beer bread rollsServings: 16 rollsTime: 4 hours
- 815g strong white bread flour
- 27g fresh yeast or 10g instant
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 50g honey
- 480ml beer (pale ale or similar)
- 120g grated mature Cheddar cheese
- For the topping:
- 30g unsalted butter, melted
- 80g grated Cheddar
1.Mix the flour, yeast, salt, butter, honey and beer in a standing mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment; or knead by hand. Keep mixing or kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add the Cheddar and continue to mix until the cheese is evenly incorporated.
2.Place the dough in a lightly buttered large container, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour and a half.
3.Prepare a large, deep baking tray about 30 x 30cm or similar by lining it with parchment or greasing lightly with butter.
4.Turn the risen dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 16 pieces, each weighing about 95g. Shape them into tight balls and place in the tray, evenly spaced. Cover with a plastic wrap or slip the tray into a plastic bin liner and leave in a warm place to puff up considerably, for an hour and a quarter.
5.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. When the bread rolls have risen, brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle some Cheddar on each one.
6.Transfer the tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Ideally they will have merged into pull-away rolls; mine were only just kissing because my tray was a little too large.
7.Remove from the oven and let the bread rolls cool down for 15 minutes before serving. Freeze the surplus; they keep well for a couple of days.