Fun fact about Welsh Rarebit: It gets its name from the seventeenth century belief that the Welsh were too poor even to afford rabbit… Hence “Welsh” rabbit is effectively cheese on toast.
But what cheese on toast!
This is pretty much an exact copy of a recipe I found in the Guardian, with a few minor hacks to make it simultaneously more disgusting and delicious.
Whenever I order this in a pub -which I do regularly- it is served on firm white or brown bread, the delicious slick of cheese congealing on the top.
But whilst watching one of many baking programmes earlier in the year, a thought occurred to me. What would happen if you tried to slick this over a more ‘lunar’ bread landscape… one pockmarked by yeast bubbles?
Would this not result in gooey, molten valleys and crisp, concealed peaks?
Well… yes. It kinda does. And what bread is more lunar-landscaped than the ciabatta?
- Bake-at-home ciabatta. Mine is from M&S. But so is my whole life at this stage.
- 300 grams Lancashire cheese. Opting for cheddar is where I went wrong before. It’s too crumbly and not squishy enough. Lancashire it must be. If you’re outside the UK, this is a squishy yellow cheese… actually somewhat like the ‘pizza cheese’ I used to buy in Australia.
- 40 grams butter. Just in case the last item gave you the impression this was a diet recipe.
- 2 teaspoons English mustard powder. Ration book chic.
- 6 tablespoons of stout. Hint: Guinness is stout.
- 3 egg yolks.
- Worcestershire sauce. To taste. Veggie option would probably be a dab of marmite.
1. Preheat the oven then grate the cheese. It will crumble a bit in your hands. Don’t be too bothered by this, you’ll be melting it after all. Set aside.
2. Mix together the stout and the mustard powder over a very low flame. Then add the butter and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and let it all melt together.
3. At this point, I tend to put the bread in the oven but be sure to follow the packet instructions. You are going to be baking the bread twice. First to actually cook the bread, then secondly to crisp up the top once you have halved it. Here is the halfway mark:
If you don’t ‘twice bake’ then when you pour the cheese onto the freshly baked bread it will collapse somewhat due to the softness of the bread… leaving you with a sort of flavoured, portable fondue. Which doesn’t sound that bad when you think about it.
4. Once your bread is in the oven, tip the grated cheese into the saucepan, stirring until it melts.
You can pretty much leave it like this -stirring regularly- indefinitely. At no stage must it boil! Otherwise you can turn your complete attention to the bread.
5. Once the top of your ciabatta is toasted, pull it out of the oven. Mix the egg yolks into the cheese and pour the mixture all over the toasted ciabatta.
6. Grill that baby until the cheese is all firm and bubbly. Serve immediately to people who are only seconds away from scalding their mouths.