That kind of title gets your attention, doesn’t it? It certainly gets mine, and I’m the one who made the bread. Yes, it’s pieces of roasted apple and cheddar cheese suspended in a soft, malty dough enriched with buttermilk and porter beer. You could make almost anything with that combination of foods (including just handing them to me) and I’d be all about it. So there’s not a lot to discuss here, because you kind of have to try this one as soon as possible.
The recipe is adapted from a bread book that is a pillar of my kitchen: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. It’s a pretty small book, but it’s packed with great recipes that are both great on their own and also fantastic foundations for other inventions that pop into your head. In this case, I did very little adapting or inventing other than adding apples to an existing cheese bread recipe, and taking advantage of some of the variations he already suggests. I think the default version is all white flour and more of a swirl cheese bread, whereas my version uses chunks of cheese and a percentage of whole wheat flour.
This is a treat bread: not quite sticky buns or danishes, but fancy enough and with enough “special” ingredients and enrichments to make it more of a “sometimes” food or even a gift. It’s also one of those foods I feel obligated to let shine on its own; I wouldn’t put any kind of spread or sandwich on this in most cases since it stands up so well on its own.
So try it out! In terms of ingredients, I would use extra sharp yellow cheddar (so you can see it and taste it distinctly), granny smith or a similar baking apple (so they hold their texture) and something in the neighborhood of a porter for the beer. I find that it’s hard to really pick out lighter beers once they’re in a dough, so if you are really trying to highlight the beer flavor it’s good to go with something dark and malty to accomplish that goal. Anything from a brown ale to a stout should be great, and I personally think the porter is perfect.
Apple Cheddar Beer Bread
(from Artisan Breads Every Day)
5 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup beer, such as porter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or regular milk)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
2 cups cheese, diced into small chunks
2 cups peeled and diced apple, plus 2 more tablespoons brown sugar
The day before you want to bake, make the dough. First, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Mix the buttermilk and the beer in a separate container, then mix in the yeast.
Make a well in the flour mixture, then pour in the liquid and stir together for several minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Next, either dump the dough onto a floured counter or into a stand mixer with a dough hook, and knead until smooth, adding a touch more flour if necessary. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap, to rise in the fridge overnight. (You can skip the overnight step and let the dough rise for an hour or so on the counter, but it won’t develop quite as much flavor.)
The next day, take your risen dough out of the fridge an hour or two before you’re planning on baking.
Mix the diced apple with the 2 tbsp of brown sugar, and roast briefly (ten minutes or so) in a 350°F oven. This will caramelize them slightly and remove some moisture so they’re not gummy or raw in the final bread.
Gently squish your bread into a big rectangle, and spread your cheese and apples across it. Roll the dough up and knead around to disperse the apples and cheese; it’ll feel lumpy and like there’s way too much of everything, but just trust and move forward. Divide the dough into 2-3 small loaves or a bunch of rolls.
Set the dough in greased loaf pans to rise; they’re probably ready to bake when they are risen above the top of the pan and the dough doesn’t immediately spring back when poked. Bake in 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes, rotating the loaves halfway through the bake. They’re done when the surface is golden brown and the internal temperature is above 185°F in the center. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. After a few minutes, carefully remove the bread from the pans and allow to cool for 45 minutes or so before eating.
This will be one of the best breads you’ve ever tried. Enjoy!