i was first exposed to this recipe many, many years ago, and I had actually forgotten about it - and then I came across it in a deep clean (Oh, haha, it wasn't a deep clean, it was more like I was looking for something else and stumbled across this, let's be real, I'm not doing any deep cleaning lately)
I made this over the weekend, and it was just as awesome as I remembered.
Baking bread is one of my favorite pastimes. It's meditative, reflective, and if you follow a few key steps, pretty foolproof. It's also remarkably helpful for getting rid of your aggressions, in the kneading stage.
- 12 ounces beer (I used a bottle of cheap stuff, but I've made this with expensive beer because it was left over from a party - it really makes no difference)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 T. salt
- 3 T. butter
- 8 ounces Velveeta (I KNOW, but you need it for this)
- 5 cups flour
- 2 T yeast - or 2 packages
- 12 ounces swiss cheese, cut into small cubes (sometimes when I make this, I use a mix of cheeses, the odds and ends that I have in the cheese drawer - gruyere, emmantaler, etc.)
In a saucepan, mix the beer, water, sugar, salt, butter and Velvet. Heat until bubbling, lift off heat and cool to warm. The cheese might not melt fully, and that's ok. While you are waiting for the cheese and beer mixture to cool, put 2 cups of flour in the large bowl and add the yeast. Mix well. When the cheese and beer mixture has cooled enough so you can comfortably insert a finger, pour it over the flour mixture and stir.
Note - if you are in a hurry and the cheese/beer mixture is taking forever and a day to cool, place the saucepan in a bowl of ice and stir it every minute or so - it will cool rapidly.
Add in the additional flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well, until you've added the additional flour in. (After I've added about 2 cups, I find it difficult to stir, and so I dump in out on the counter, pour the additional flour on top, and knead it in. Whatever works for you.)
When the flour is incorporated, dump the dough on the counter - if you haven't already - and knead it for 2-3 minutes, until it begins to come together. Spread the dough out as flat as possible and spread the cheese chunks evenly over the top of the dough. Fold the dough in half, and then in half again, and knead it for another couple of minutes to mix the cheese throughout the dough completely. Wash your mixing bowl out and spray it well with cooking spray, and dump the bread dough back into the bowl. Spray the top of the bread dough with cooking spray (or rub melted butter into it, your choice, it's just to keep the dough from drying out). Wet a dishtowel and microwave it until the wet cloth is hot and drop it over the bowl. Allow to rise for 1.5-2 hours, until the dough has doubled.
Punch the dough down and divide it into two equal parts. Roll half of the dough into a rough 12x16 rectangle, and cut that rectangle into three strips. Braid the strips together, tucking the ends underneath. Transfer the braid to a greased loaf pan and allow it to rise for another hour, covered with the warm wet cloth as above. Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes, or until bread is nicely browned and internal temperature is 190°. When the bread is done, remove it from the pan, brush the top with melted butter, and allow to cool before slicing.
(Sometimes when I brush the melted butter on the top, I mix in garlic powder, or parmesan cheese, or mixed herbs. The varieties are endless. And delicious.)