Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-apart Bread / Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

It's another two-for-one day, ladies and gentlemen. :) In honor of Dr. Who night (the theme this time is appetizers), I am again branching out and entering the world of baking, temporarily I'm sure. I think the reason I dislike baking is the time you have to wait for things to rise and whatnot. It just takes so much more planning to figure out when to start things! The Beer Bread recipe was one passed on from a friend, and Spice Cupcakes were a birthday request from my dearest mother-in-law. (though I added the pumpkin idea)

Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-apart Bread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 beer, preferably dark but really, use whatever you like to drink
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup rye flour (use additional a-p flour if you don’t have this)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon or a mustard of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  1. Make dough: In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly. You want the mixture warm (110 to 116 degrees), but not steaming hot.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and table salt. With the mixer on low, pour in the butter-beer mixture, mixing only until the flour is moistened. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. The batter will look lumpy, but will become smooth in a moment. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, mixing until just combined. Replace paddle with a dough hook and let the machine knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes on low.
  3. Oil a medium/large bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare fillings.
  4. [Do ahead: You can also rest the dough in the fridge overnight -- wrapped tightly with plastic. The next day, let it rest at room temperature for an hour before rolling out.]
  5. Make fillings: Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce until smooth. Set aside.
  6. In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. I like to keep this in the fridge until needed so it doesn’t get soft and clumpy, making it harder to sprinkle over the dough in a bit.
  7. Assemble bread: Either coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan lightly with butter or a nonstick spray and set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle, making sure it doesn’t stick to the counter by lifting sections and re-flouring the counter as needed. Brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; each should be 12-by-4 inches. Sprinkle the first one evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the grated cheese (which is now fine to leave out at room temperature). Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping 1/4 cup of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.
  9. With your very sharpest serrated knife, gently — so gently! The lightest sawing motions the weight of the blade will allow! — cut your stack into 6 to 7 2-inch segments (each stacked segment should be 4-by-2 inches). I say 6 to 7 range because while your 12-inch length should clearly yield only 6 2-inch segments, I find that the soft dough stretches so much when you lift and stack it that I end up with 7. Either amount will fit; this is totally not something to fret over.
  10. Arrange stacks of dough down the length of your prepared loaf pan as if filling a card catalog drawer. I make this easier by standing my loaf pan up on its short end to make the next part easier. If, when you finish filing all of your dough stacks, you ended up with less than needed for the dough “cards” to reach the end of the pan, when you return the pan to rest flat on the counter again, just shimmy it a little so the dough centers. It will all even out in the final rise/oven. If you ended up with toomany dough cards, before you add the last stack, simply press gently on the dough already filed to make room for it.
  11. Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Bake loaf for 25 to 35 minutes, until puffed and brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before flipping it out onto a serving plate/cutting board.

Mostly followed this one to the letter. I didn't have rye flour or hot sauce - just used more all-purpose flour instead of rye, and omitted the hot sauce. It turned out pretty well! I also did not have a stand mixer, so just mixed and kneaded by hand. The bread itself was very fluffy. I ran into the problem of how long to let it rise because I made it earlier then I probably needed to, so it ended up rising in the bread pan for about 2 hours. It was not as fully flavored as I expected. Next time I think instead of making it as a stack, I will make it into a roll by spreading the sauce and cheese across the whole dough when it's spread out and then rolling it. I'm not quite sure how to increase the flavor of the cheese/seasoning - I think it might just take some playing around. Definitely will make it again!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup of butter, the white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by beating the cream cheese and 1/4 butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the confectioners' sugar a little at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; beat until fluffy. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost with the cream cheese icing.

I'm going back and forth about this recipe. But since I didn't follow it directly, I'm not sure whether it's the recipe itself that needs some work, or my changes! :p First change, based on reviews, was to substitute the butter for vegetable oil - apparently for moist cupcakes, you NEVER use butter, only oil. Who knew. Also based on reviews, I increased the amount of pumpkin added by about 3/4 of a cup. On my own personal taste, I increased the nutmeg/cinnamon/all spice in the batter probably by almost double after the test taste before baking (I sprinkled it in, so I'm not sure exact measurements). 
The cupcakes came out with great flavor, but were VERY dense. I may go back to using butter and decrease the pumpkin next time to see if they come out a little fluffier. The frosting was pretty good, though I like a bit more cream cheese in the cream cheese to powdered sugar ratio, so I may shift that around a bit. The cinnamon added a fun color and brought out more of the pumpkin flavor of the cupcakes. 

Factoid of the day: I loooooove naps. Most of the time, as long as I HAVE extra time (I don't really do naps under pressure of a time crunch) it's so nice to just lay there and doze, even if I don't actually sleep. I usually will read for about 20-30 minutes and then doze for about an hour or so. I'm in this quandary place of reading - I'm reading a book that I really like, but am not flying through, but I just went the library yesterday and now have 7 new possibilities to read next! Part of me wants to read one of my new books (All My Patients Kick and Bite by Jeff Wells), and part of me is enjoying the book I'm reading (A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly). 
I went through a phase about a year ago when I read nothing but animal books, mostly collections of short stories written by vet's about their patients and clients. So this new Jeff Wells book has gotten me thinking about getting back into that phase, but we'll see. All that to say that I'm excited to read it. Crazy clients and unique animals make me smile (as long as the crazy clients are can be observed from a farrrrr distance! :P) and even though I live it every week day, it's fun to read about someone ELSE living it! 
I've decided that if I were to write a book, it would be comedic non-fiction, an anthology of sorts. My current ideas are either crazy client/animal stories from work or listening to the Bible on shuffle, in the style of A Year of Living Biblically. Either one could be fun. I'll let you know if I ever actually start working on this. :P 

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