• Beer Cheese & Pretzel Bread

    This is one of my favorite guilty pleasures during the colder winter months. The bread takes a little effort, but is basically foolproof. For the beer cheese, use your favorite beer. I like something good and hoppy like an IPA, because I like the bitter finish this adds and it enhances the cheese flavor. I’d stay away from the darker beers, but just about any beer will do in a pinch.BeerCheese

    Pretzel Bread

    1 tablespoon instant yeast
    2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
    2 cups warm milk
    1 1/2 cups warm water
    1 tablespoon salt
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    6 1/2 – 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

    Water Bath
    3 quarts water
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/4 cup baking soda
    Coarse salt for sprinkling

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water,sugar,  yeast, oil and milk. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy. Add the salt and 2 cups of the flour, and mix on low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer still on low, add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time. until a soft dough is formed that is tacky to the touch, but not sticky. You may not need all of the flour to accomplish this.

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

    Portion the dough into 16 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rest for 15 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

    For the water bath, bring the water, sugar and baking soda to a boil in a large, deep pot.

    Carefully place 3-4 balls of dough into the water at a time. As soon as the dough floats (about 1 minute), remove it from the bath with a slotted spoon, place it on the baking sheet, score the top, and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt. Repeat with all 16 pieces.

    Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.


    Beer Cheese

    12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1 (12 ounce) bottle beer, preferably IPA or brown ale
    5 ounces evaporated milk
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon hot sauce
    Kosher salt, to taste

    Toss cheese with cornstarch in a medium bowl; set aside.

    Whisk together beer, milk, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until gently steaming, whisking frequently to prevent scorching.

    When beer mixture is warm, add cheese, stirring until completely melted, bubbling slightly, and thickened. Stir in hot sauce and season with salt to taste; serve immediately with pretzel bread.

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