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In February, I saw a post from smitten kitchen that made me hungry. Yeah, so what’s new, right? The recipe was for Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread, and I thought it sounded so tasty and like so much fun to eat. Months later, with some homemade mustard begging to be used, I pulled up the recipe and decided to make some. Now, you can laugh at me if you want, or shake your head, but reading through the directions I realized that there were quite a few steps to the process; I didn’t think I had enough time to make it correctly, and I wasn’t really willing to go through the trouble of finding out. I really shy away from multi-step recipes, preferring to find a quick work-around instead. I am an impatient baker, for sure. So, what to do? Well, another bread project I had been meaning to try was monkey bread; why not take the flavors of the beautiful pull-apart bread and the technique of monkey bread and come up with something new? And so, with much inspiration from smitten kitchen, I improvised, and my experiment worked beautifully. My monkey-style beer bread is soft in the middle (my husband likened it to a Parker House dinner roll) with crispier, mustard-y edges and a hint of sweetness from honey. It is best served right from the oven, when you can pull off some bread and see the steam rise from your piece as you smell the sharp, tangy mustard and melted butter. I have a feeling this recipe will be in heavy rotation for a while. Hope you enjoy!

Monkey-Style Beer Bread with Mustard & Thyme 

(adapted from smitten kitchen)

 For the Bread:

  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. + 1/3 c. beer (I have used Black Butte Porter and New Belgium Blue Paddle; use what you like to drink)
  • 3 – 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Mustard Sauce:

  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. mustard of your choice (Dijon is really nice)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. fresh thyme, chopped + some extra for garnish
  • salt & black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat 4 T. butter with 1/4 c. beer, just until butter has melted. Add the remaining 1/3 c. beer and set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 c. flour with sugar, yeast and 1 tsp. salt; add the beer mixture and mix on low speed until the flour is wet. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate one before adding the second, then 1 c. more flour. Use a dough hook attachment on medium speed to bring the dough together into a smooth ball. If your dough is overly sticky, add the final 1/2 c. flour and mix again. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead with your hands, folding the ball in half one way and then another several times until you have a smooth ball. Lightly grease a glass bowl at least 3 times as big as your ball of dough and place the dough in it; cover the bowl loosely with a towel and allow to rise for 90 mins. or so, until doubled. (Alternately, at this point you can rest the dough, tightly covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge overnight. You’ll need to bring it to room temperature and allow it to rise before proceeding, which takes about 3 hrs. total.)

When you are ready to proceed, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a Bundt or angel food pan. I’ve also made these as mini loaves, which worked well; this recipe made 4 mini loaves. In a small saucepan, the same one you used for the beer-butter mixture if you’re doing it all on the same day, melt 4 T. butter and add mustard, Worcestershire if using, salt & pepper to taste, honey and thyme. Now for the fun part. Pull off golf ball-sized pieces of dough, slightly smaller or larger for variety, and roll them into balls in your hands. The balls don’t need to be perfect. Dip each piece of dough into the mustard sauce and roll it around to coat liberally. When coated, place it into your prepared pan and repeat, squishing the mustard-coated balls together to cover the bottom of your pan. When all the dough has been coated, pour any extra mustard sauce over the top; allow the pan to rest at room temperature for another hour or so, until the dough has risen again slightly. It will look something like this:

When you are ready, bake the bread for 30-35 mins. If you used an angel food cake pan, pull the whole middle out and place on a plate so people can pull off bits of bread. If you used a different kind of pan, turn the bread out onto a plate and serve. Garnish with a few thyme leaves if you like. Monkey-style bread is best right out of the oven but can be re-warmed or toasted as well.