Cheddar and Horseradish Bread

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I had an unfortunate learning experience this weekend, and it came in dough form.  Specifically, big puffy mounds of misshapen batter which glowered at me like Pol Pot with elephantiasis.  Everything started out innocently enough.  On Sunday we went over to Mike’s parents’ house to celebrate his sister’s birthday.  They had ordered a standing prime rib roast from the butcher, and we offered to make a couple of starchy sides  – namely, Yorkshire puds and a cheddar and horseradish loaf.

I’ve never made Yorkshire pudding, but I didn’t imagine that they would be terribly challenging.  After all, I knew the basics.  You let the batter rest.  You get the pans and grease smokin’ hot, pour in the batter and leave them to cook at high heat until they’re puffed and brown.  That’s not so hard, right?  I had two previously untouched popover pans.  I even polled the g.d. internet over Twitter to see if anyone had a particular recipe or trick of the trade that they wanted to share.  From what I could gather though, that’s really all there was to it.

Twitter is what it is, and I got some ire-inducing feedback (“What’s so hard about Yorkshires?”  Huh.  Screw you too) but some very good advice from kindhearted souls as well.  The always delightful Spiteful Chef recommended that I use duck fat, and although I would love to tell you that I’m the kind of person who keeps a jar of duck fat in her freezer (because she actually is, and I’m positively wracked with jealousy), well, I’m not.  But discount bacon?  Bacon I can do.  I rendered down a pound of thick cut bacon and hoarded the fat like I was in a courtship for cholesterol.  I followed the guidelines for batter, which seemed to be roughly equal amounts of egg, milk and flour.  One of the classic Brit-pub recipes that I found for 6 puds looked easy enough – 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, pinch of salt.  I wanted 12, so I did what one would normally do….I doubled the recipe.  Into the bowl went 8 eggs, whisked until frothy.  Two cups of milk joined the party, and two cups of flour whisked in a half cup at a time.  The batter was pancake like and a perfect representation of what I remember from Prime Rib Sunday with the blue hairs.  When the meat came out of the oven I scavenged some of the beefy fat as well, put about 1 tsp in each cup, and let this heat up until it was smoking.

And boy, was it smoking.

After two minutes there was so much smoke in the room that we opened a window.  And then we opened every window in the house. People thought they were just coming to a regular ol’ birthday party, but they didn’t know that the theme was Auschwitz.  I consider this Failure #1.

Well, what of it.  I yanked the smoking hot pans out of the oven and quickly poured a small amount of batter into each.  Some of the sage internet advice that I truly thought I heeded was,  “Make sure that you only fill the cups up 1/3 of the way.”  It’s just…well, the pans are hot and there’s all that oil.  As soon as you pour any batter inside it starts to sizzle and seize, bubbling up in the most ominous way.  It didn’t seem like that much batter at the time until they started to rise (oh, whee!  What delight, what glee!).

And rise (look at them go!  Isn’t that just magnificent?  Thank heavens I could at least make the yorkies right!).

And riiiiiiiiiissssseeeeee (uhh…okay.  So…so maybe there’s too much of a good thing, and OH GOD HOW MUCH BIGGER ARE THEY GOING TO GET?!).  Failure #2.

I present to you:  Greedy Tina’s Yorkshire Puddings.

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These are the puddings that ate New York.

I have never been so horrified by baked goods in my life.

The only saving grace, if I can search to find a silver lining, is that these mutinous and mushrooming popovers were still no match for the roast beef.  When Mike’s parents cook a joint, they cook a joint. These people know their meat, to our continual gluttony gustatory delight.  This is the home of the 30 pound turkey, after all, and if anything was going to dwarf the Flintstone sized popovers it could only be the roast.  I think the last time I was in such close proximity to this much cow it was at the Royal Winter Fair, and at least this time dinner wasn’t blinking lazily at me and chewing it’s cud.

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Majestic, isn’t it?

You know how when you were a little kid you wanted to grow up to be a firefighter or an astronaut?  Well, I just turned 30 and what I want when I grow up is to one day invite people over for meals like these.  On Sunday morning I flopped over, scowled a bit at nothing in particular (as is my morning routine), and then shook Mike awake to say, “Hey!  Hey you!  Hey, remember last night?  The rib roast?  The one that we ate? Yeah, you remember how awesome that was?  Because it was really good.” It’s truly remarkable that he has never seriously considered kicking me out of the house.  (I hope)

Enough of that though.  I suppose that since I’m posting about bread I should probably talk about that for a while.  Okay, so I knew that we were having a roast beast and I wasn’t particularly confident in my ability to make Yorkshire pudding (self fulfilling prophecy:  FULFILLED) so I wanted a fail-stop, or a good guarantee.  If there are two things that you can usually rely on to end up in the Will Be Eaten category, they would be bread and anything with cheese.  Ergo, I like to combine the two whenever possible.

Horseradish is a classic accompaniment to rare beef, and even though I could (and sometimes do) eat horseradish sauce with a spoon I understand that it’s not exactly for everyone.  One of my favorite things to do is take an ‘acquired taste’ and find a way to make it more palatable for the faint of heart.  Enter horseradish, but all wrapped up in doughy goodness with a sexy spiral of cheddar cheese.  All of a sudden the phallic roots and ominous beige spoon sauce aren’t looking so bad, are they?

Finally, I promise you that this isn’t knock you over the head cheddar and horseradish flavor, like the Herr’s potato chips…which are my absolute favorite.  And who’s loss due to possible discontinuation I will mourn until my dying day.  This bread takes a more subtle approach, with a herbal flavor and rich, dense and chewy crumb.  If you’re not a fan of horseradish but you want to start building yourself up to give it a try, this might not be a bad place to start.

Cheddar and Horseradish Bread

Makes 2 loaves

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups warm water*
  • 1.5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 5.75 cups flour
  • 4-5″ horseradish root (1 cup finely grated)
  • 450 g extra old cheddar cheese (4 cups grated)

* Remember that warm does not mean hot.  The water should be just about body temperature or slightly higher, so a few degrees warmer than room temperature but definitely not scalding.  Water that’s too hot will kill your yeast which means no rise for that luscious cheesy dough.

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Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the two cups of warm (not hot) water.  Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s frothy and bubbly to make sure that the yeast is active.  If you trust your yeast and have used it recently then you can always bypass this step, but I’m paranoid at the best of times and sometimes I just need visual proof that if my bread fails I have nobody to blame but myself.

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Whisk together the flour, thyme  and salt.

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Grate the cheese using a box grater and be sure to grate the horseradish on a finer panel.  I wouldn’t use the smallest holes to do this, but one size up works particularly well.

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Pour the yeast mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the flour is moistened and it’s starting to bundle coarsely together into a rough ball.  Add 2 cups of the cheese and all of the horseradish to the bowl, stirring to combine.

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At this point it’s easier to abandon your wooden spoon and use clean hands to work the dough into a ball and make sure that the cheese and horseradish are evenly incorporated.  The dough is sticky, so do your best to start kneading the  mound directly in the bowl for 5-7 minutes until it starts to firm up and hold together.

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Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface (did I mention that it’s sticky?  Because it is.  You’ve been warned….) and continue kneading until the texture has changed and the ball is supple and smooth like an infant’s rump.  While you’re kneading you will need to lightly flour the board a few more times to make sure that the dough doesn’t stick, but try to use a light hand and add only as much flour as necessary to prevent adhesion.  If you add too much flour you’ll dry out the dough and change the finished crumb (read: texture),

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Dive the dough ball in two.  Pat or roll each half out into a rectangle that’s about 8×12″.    The main area that you want to be wary of is the width, because if your dough is much fatter than the loaf pan it will be hard to squeeze it in.

Sprinkle each flat pad of dough with 1 cup of the remaining sharp cheddar cheese.

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Roll the bread dough up like a jelly roll, so there is a spiral of cheese wending it’s way through.   Carefully lift the dough roll and place it seam side down in a loaf pan which has been well and thoroughly lubed up with a generous amount of butter or lard.

Cover the pans lightly with a clean tea towel (and by “clean” I mean, of course, the one that you were using during the first rise.  Hey, it doesn’t need to be new to be clean) and leave them in a warm draft free place to rise for between 45 minutes and an hour.  The rolls should have swelled to at least 25-30% larger than when they were first formed.

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While the dough is rising you can preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Getting your oven piping hot is one more key to getting a good rise out of your bread loaves.

Tuck your loaves into the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is a rich, dark brown and when you rap on the top of the loaf you hear a vaguely hollow sound.

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Let the bread cool for at least 1-3 hours before cutting in.

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Sure, that sticky dough was a bit of a pain to work with, wasn’t it?  But look at how you’re rewarded – with a chewy texture and fat, regular holes.  That, my friends, is what adequate moisture in your dough will bring.

Make no mistakes though, because this dough might appear to be nice and light with it’s pockets and airy crumb, but I promise you that this is a dense and hearty loaf.  Dairy fat from the cheese, as fabulous as it is, keeps the bread moist and fairly heavy.  This is a great bread for toasting to sop up all those savory beef juices.

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On the other hand, it’s equally good cut into fat slabs to make a roast beef sandwich for lunch the next day.

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So the Yorkies weren’t quite a success, well, that’s life.  But even  when things don’t go exactly as planned, there’s always something you can bring to the party!

  • Hellcat13

    I’m glad to see your bread has that big gaping hole in it too. I make cinnamon bread regularly, and I have never had a loaf without the pocket. I don’t know how to get rid of it.

  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com Kristie

    I don’t have duck fat in my freezer. What I have in there is an avalanche of shit that flies out whenever I try to open the door to get a pint of ice cream. I do have it in my fridge though, and only because of the duck confit I made several months ago to bribe my family to visit. They sell a BUCKET of it at Hudson Valley Farms’ website for like, $12. And I’m not sure how sanitary this is, but I reuse the fat over and over again for confiting things. Duck fat appears to have an absurd shelf life.

    Also, I think your popovers are GORGEOUS. Tall, buxom, caramel blonde…they’re like Charlize Theron in bread form. And horseradish bread with roast beast is inspired. Love it.

    P.S. The smoking thing drives me bananas. I endlessly yearn for the day when I can afford to buy a house and put in a super-strength exhaust system over the stove.

  • Anne

    omg…between the chips (so so sad….) and the bread (wow, I hate making yeast bread but this is enticing…) I’m craving roast beast and horseradish. Wonder if I can manage that tonight…..

  • http://colette2008.blogspot.com Colette

    The bread sounds great. And it doesn’t matter how the yorkshire puddings look – the question is how did they taste?

    My favourite chips are McCoy’s, which I’ve only seen in England. I have gotten money changed while changing planes at Heathrow so that I could buy some.

  • http://muskegharpy.blogspot.com/ Jacquie

    Your puddings are really pretty! I am of the mind that popovers/puddings should have a sort of rustic charm. Well done.

    Also, I finally made bread without a sponge and good golly it was really easy. Now the door is opened into new and fantastic bread territory–like your horseradish cheddar loaves.

  • Nicole

    Can’t wait to make this bread! How does it keep? Will it still be a good texture if I make it a day or two ahead of time?

  • http://www.tobiascooks.com tobias cooks!

    I just messed up my Yorkshire Puddings today. The roast beef I had made also got too dry. I blame it on the meat 😉

    Love your bread though. Great combo.

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com/2009/08/hansel-gretel-pasta-orecchette-with.html lo

    Mmmm. This bread is totally calling my name.

    As for those Yorkshire puds — they’re awesome. Bigger IS better, after all. And I’ll bet they tasted just fine. Even if they didn’t contain any duck fat 🙂

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Hellcat13 – the gap isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means a lot of moisture and a good rise. Is your bread rolled? I find that rolled breads (especially where the filling creates an impermeable layer that the dough can’t rebind itself to…like delicious cheese) usually have a charming air pocket….and I like it 🙂

    Kristie – our fan is so sub-rate it’s ridiculous, but it’s the kind that gets built into the bottom of your microwave (no kidding) in a kit-kitchen, so not too much we can do about it. Sigh.

    Anne – Ooh, there’s ALWAYS time to make roast beef! I love minimal effort for maximum meat.

    Colette – totally worth it. McCoy’s cheddar and onion? I’m in love. OH, or the roast chicken that actually tastes…just like roast chicken! SO GOOD.

    Jacquie – I’m far too lazy to make bread with a sponge. I don’t know why, because it’s not that much extra effort or time-spend, but I haven’t found a huge advantage in sponged breads vs lazybones fast acting yeast breads…so I do make them sometimes (damn you, BM Apprentice!) but not too frequently.

    Nicole – I’m so sorry for the late response!! It’s been a hella busy week. The texture is best on the day that it’s made, but it will keep (wrapped) the next day…just a bit denser. I wouldn’t keep it longer than that because it will just get heavy and dry, as homemade breads are wont to do. I suppose that there is something to be said for preservatives after all. If you decide to try this recipe, please do tell us what you think!!

    Tobias – my first roast beef was like jerky. My second roast beef was so rare that it bucked as I cut. Now….I use my trusty meat thermometer, because I rarely trust cooking times! Mind you, there’s no such thing as beef which is TOO rare for me, but I try to respect the wishes of my guests. Sometimes. On occasion.

    Lo – ah, a Wisconsin gal who likes cheddar? NO way! And you’re very kind about the mutated puds. I swear they looked like they were eating the beef.

  • Lauren

    How spicy is it?

    It looks reallllly yummy. At this point, sitting at the Tornto City Centre Airport, waiting to board a flight that I originally booked for 6:15pm (it’s now 9:25), anything would look really yummy :p

    What could I use instead of horseradish? Say, if I wanted a garlic version, how much would I use, and what else would I need to add to make up for probably not using a full cup of grated garlic?

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      I don’t find it overly spicy, but then again I’m a fan of knock yer boots off horseradish sauce and could eat it with a spoon. The horseradish mellows as it cooks so it’s actually much more subtle in flavor than you’d think!

      If you wanted to make this with garlic instead, I think 2-3 bulbs (depending on size) of roasted garlic would be a great idea! If you wanted to use raw garlic be sure to mince it up nice and fine, and a good 4-5 cloves will do the trick (and provide a much more pungent garlic flavor than using the roasted, if that’s what you’re going for). You would not need to add anything else to make up for the lack of volume because the horseradish may be 1 cup but it’s actually not a huge addition if you consider what you’re adding by weight and moisture. If anything you might just not need to dust your board with as much flour when you’re kneading out the dough.

      I hope that you eventually got onto the plane and it’s taking you somewhere exotic!!!!

      • Lauren

        I didn’t go anywhere exotic…just New york (Long Island) for a family wedding (the daughter of my Rabbi cousin that married me). It was fun.

        I am so going to make this with roasted garlic one day. I guess once roasted, I could mash with a fork and I could avoid grating it 🙂

  • Srita

    This looks yumm!! I am trying to use up some leftover horseradish cheese. Can I mix it with some regular cheddar cheese and skip the horseradish itself. Would the measurements be same or change? (I decided I’ll try half the ingredients. I’m making only one loaf)
    Thanks in advance! 🙂