A Home Town Favorite Gets an Upgrade When Homemade No-Knead Raisin Bread is Topped with Welsh Rarebit
Some of the vintage recipes I’ve been sharing with you are family favorites from my childhood. They are often based on distant memories of flavor and texture, intertwined with nostalgia. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, my memories are a bit different from my husband’s, who grew up in Northern Minnesota. When we first met, I was intrigued by some of the Norwegian specialties I’d never experienced like Lefse, or street fair food like Oofda Tacos. Other new-to-me recipes seemed to be based in church super or potluck culture, like Tater Tot Hot Dish or what my husband calls Funeral Sandwiches: Rounds of raisin bread, spread with processed cheese, and topped with a pimento-stuffed green olives.
Although this may seem like an odd flavor combination, I always thought it was intriguing, considering the different components: sweetness from the raisins, salty cheese, and the briny flavor of the olives. In my opinion, the ingredients just needed a little upgrade to make it something really amazing.
We’ve been watching Mind of a Chef on Netflix (it’s a really great show if you haven’t seen it). When I saw April Bloomfield making Welsh Rarebit, I knew that was just what the new and improved Funeral Sandwiches needed as a jumping off point. April’s Welsh Rarebit is a cheese sauce with a lot of depth. Sharp cheddar is flavored with Guinness, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of cayenne. It’s rich, salty, and pairs oh so nicely with the sweetness of the raisins.
A warm hearty cheese needs a hearty bread, so I went searching for a raisin bread recipe that would stand up to the sauce. I wanted something crusty and not too sweet, and I settled on a no-knead raisin bread recipe shared on Shutterbean. This recipe is from Jim Lahey’s 2009 book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I essentially followed all of the Shutterbean instructions, but left out the walnuts, and dusted the bread with flour instead of wheat bran before the final rise. Next time I will probably try wheat bran or cornmeal. I used my Starksy & Hutch style Granite Ware lidded roasting pan that I use for my Starsky & Hutch pot roast, but that’s another story.
Thirty minutes into baking, the bottom was significantly charred. Although the recipe calls for an additional 15 minutes without the lid, I took the bread out after 30 minutes. I think it would have been much too burned on the bottom had I let it go longer. If I use this roasting pan again, I may adjust the oven temp a bit or move the rack up a notch. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this recipe. The crust on the bread was fantastic, the flavor and chewiness of the crumb was really nice, and I even enjoyed the charred bits. Am I the only one that likes the bitterness of a charred raisin or two?
This is the kind of bread that you will top with the cheese sauce for dinner and then have another slice with butter for dessert. Tracy at Shutterbean does a great job detailing all the instructions, so check out her blog and give it a try.
The final component of this recipe is the olives. I chose to slice them so each bite has the perfect bread-cheese-olive ratio. Use whatever green olive fits your taste.
- Raisin bread (I recommend Jim Lahey's no-knead raisin bread as seen on Shutterbean)
- Sliced green olives
- April Bloomfield's Welsh Rarebit:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ cup Guinness
- A few glugs of Worcestershire sauce
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook until it starts to turn light brown.
- While whisking, pour in the Guinness in a slow, steady stream.
- Add the mustard powder, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture up to a simmer. Slowly add the grated cheese and stir until the cheese is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
- Remove from the heat, pour into a shallow container and allow it to set.
- Once set, spread the mixture onto pieces of raisin bread.Place in the oven under the low broiler setting, and cook until the cheese is bubbling. I like to go low and slow so it doesn't burn.
- Top with slices of green olive.
- Eat immediately.
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