oat soda bread with cheddar beer dip

by Lisa

cheddar beer dip with oat soda bread

Guys, let’s talk about one of the easiest breads ever. New to bread? Oh, bread is your middle name? Doesn’t matter, because this recipe is perfect for anyone, no matter what your bread skillset may be. I stumbled upon this bread recipe at 101 Cookbooks, and I was intrigued at how little effort there was involved. Plus, it called for a substantial portion of oat flour, not just all-purpose or standard bread flour! Quick and easy bread made with oats? This recipe was already scoring big points with me. Oh, did I mention the crust was totally loaded with a medley of seeds? Naturally, I printed it out and stashed it into my ever-increasing way-too-thick stack of recipes that I plan on eventually getting through some day. When I was lucky enough to get this life-changing food processor for Christmas, I saw a great opportunity to put it to use and whip up some homemade oat flour. A few seconds later, I was in business.

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I just couldn’t believe how quickly the bread came together. I kept glancing back at the recipe, surely thinking that I had missed something. Nope. After turning the dough onto a floured surface and kneading it a few times, I shaped the loaf into an oval and plopped it into a lined loaf pan. I scored it three times across the top and probably got way too excited about how many seeds I studded the top of the crust with. You see, I’ve been dubbed “the spice queen” because I’ve always been pretty heavy-handed when it comes to spices/seeds/herbs. It got even worse when I started reading about all the various health benefits… ‘Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory! Garlic reduces cholesterol! Cayenne helps with circulation!’ It just melted away any remaining inhibitions when it came to how much spices/seeds/herbs etc. to use throughout the day. Within a tiny amount of reason, of course. I won’t be dumping an entire jar of powdered garlic into this bread or anything. Although, perhaps I could make that work… Anyway, when the recipe itself instructed to generously sprinkle seeds across the crust, I stopped reading right then. Say no more. Done. and. done.

doughdough kneadedoat soda bread pre-baking

As the bread baked, I made a cheddar beer dip to go with it. I decided that a thick slice of soda bread needed an appropriately weighty dip. This cheddar beer dip was perfect, because it was ultra-cheesy, thick, and seasoned with great flavors like dry mustard, Worcestershire, and cayenne. It had a great lager aftertaste, which well-countered the richness of the cheddar, without overpowering the other flavors. Plus, it was super simple to bring it all together – thanks to the help of my bright and shiny new food processor. Guys, it took three seconds to grate a pound of cheddar cheese. THREE seconds. I have heard people talk about the aches and pains and hernias from lugging out their food processors and cleaning all its various parts, throwing it all aside in favor of a good, old-fashioned box grater. Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase of my new Breville, but guys – I just don’t see it. Did you read the part about the THREE seconds? The time I saved grating all that cheese was far more than the time I spent getting it ready and cleaning up afterwards. Besides, I can’t complain too much about a little dishwashing sesh and some Mrs. Meyers’ basil. Let’s get real. Bright and shiny kitchen appliances make me happy, and I’m okay with that.

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After all was said and done, I had an ultra-quick and easy oat soda bread with a heavily [no other way would be acceptable in my book] seeded crust – giving great texture and a bit of crunch to every bite. The inside of the bread was incredibly moist and dense, somewhat similar to a northern-style cornbread. Artisan-quality bread that you can make at home, with hardly any effort, either. Importantly, the bread was sturdy enough to stand up to the velvety dip. I really liked how the oat flavor in the bread softened the heaviness of the cheese, too. It was a match made in heaven. Guys, the bread was tasty enough by itself – but combined with this savory cheddar beer dip – kitchen victory.

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oat soda bread with cheddar beer dip

Bread adapted minimally from 101 Cookbooks
Dip adapted minimally from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 12-16 as an appetizer

For the bread:
Dip adapted minimally from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 12-16 as an appetizer
For the bread:
2 cups rolled oats [you can substitute 7 ounces, or scant 2 cups, if you have oat flour on hand]
2 1/4 cups [10 ounces/285 grams] unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt [I used 1/3 slightly heaping table salt]
1 3/4 cups buttermilk [415 milliliters] buttermilk, plus more for brushing and in adding to the dough, if needed
Mixed seeds – sesame, poppy, caraway, etc. to taste [I used approximately 2 tablespoons of sesame and poppy]

For the dip:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk [I used almond milk]
3/4 cups lager or ale of choice [I used Yuengling, and added a splash more]
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne, to taste [I used about 1/4 teaspoon]
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Make the bread:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and set the rack to the middle position. Mist a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan lightly with olive oil and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the oats into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, and then grind into a fine powder [approximately 2 minutes.] Whisk together the oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir everything together until the dough comes together. Do not over-mix.

Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead only briefly [about 30 seconds] with the help of a bench scraper, if you have one – until you have a smooth dough ball without any cracks. Add flour or buttermilk, as needed, to bring the dough ball together smoothly. Gently pat it into an oval slightly smaller than the size of the loaf pan, and set it inside the prepared pan. Use your fingers to slightly press the dough from the edges of the pan, creating a slight dome on the top of the loaf. It will expand as it bakes, and this makes for great presentation.

Brush the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and generously sprinkle the seeds. Deeply score the top of the loaf diagonally [without going all the way to the bottom] with a sharp knife three times. Bake for 30 minutes, and then quickly raise the oven rack to the highest setting, and bake for another 20 minutes or so – until the loaf is golden-brown and crusty. The bread will sound hollow when you gently knock on it with your knuckles. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool briefly on a wire cooling rack.

Make the dip:
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until you have a thick, smooth, golden-brown paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, and slowly whisk in the beer and milk. Bring to a simmer. Add the mustard, Worcestershire, and cayenne. Continue to cook, stirring every so often, until the dip thickens, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Add in a handful of the grated cheddar cheese, and whisk until the cheese is completely melted. Repeat again, working only with one handful of cheese at a time, until all the cheese is completely melted and the dip is smooth and warmed through. [It is important to add only one handful at the time, otherwise your dip may turn out lumpy.] Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the bread and the dip:
Cut the bread into inch-thick slices, and then cut each slice vertically into hearty half-slices or thinner matchsticks.
Serve with the hot dip.

The dip will thicken and cool as it sits. To reheat, return to the stove top, add a splash of beer, and stir until warmed through.

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