Thursday, 26 April 2007

Beer Bread

A few years ago, I had a friend who was a beer bread factory--every potluck or lunch or whatever we had, she whipped up a loaf. She insisted that it was because it was the easiest delicious bread recipe there is. She was right. However, when she passed the recipe along to me, I tried it, and somehow, the beer did not back out, nothing rose, and I ended up with a loaf of dense flour that tasted of stale beer. I was, understandably, put off.

I had pretty much forgotten about the wonderful phenomenon that is beer bread until it randomly came up in conversation with one of my housemates last Sunday afternoon, and I felt inspired to try again. Graeme thought I was nuts, as we had just spend Friday and Saturday doing nothing but baking until we ached for the farmers' market, and we were both so tired of the kitchen. But in the excitement of the market, I'd forgotten to buy my usual quota of bread for the week, so I wanted something, and I remembered that it took not even 10 minutes to prepare beer bread dough, and that we had leftover Old Hooky in the fridge from Graeme's beef and ale pies.

So I returned to the dreaded kitchen, and got to work. The great thing about beer bread is the basic recipe takes almost no ingredients, and the really fun part is adding in some herbs, or onions, or cheese, or whatever, to go with the beery yeasty flavour. At the market the day before, I'd been enchanted by one of the sellers' potato bread with caraway seeds, so I decided to go in that direction for flavouring. I'll post the recipe I made, but if you're going to try it yourself, I really encourage you experiment--you can throw anything into this!

The Recipe:

Caraway Beer Bread

3 cups white flour
1 tsp raw cane sugar
1 tblsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp caraway seeds
1 tblsp linseeds
12oz/350g of a nice ale
some rock salt

Mix up the dry ingredients. Pour in the beer slowly and stir to combine. It should form a thick and lumpy (in a good "rustic" sort of way, not a "I'm not properly mixed" sort of way) dough/batter. Pour/spoon it into a greased bread tin, and sprinkle rock salt on top to give the crust some texture. Bake at 190C for 45 minutes, until it's risen and looks beautiful and wholesome and golden. Your kitchen will smell like beer.

That's seriously it! Best recipe for a lazy baker. This bread tastes lovely with a strong cheese.

What is healthy about this recipe:
There's nothing too healthy or unhealthy about it, although obviously white flour is not ideal (even though we try to use our nice stoneground stuff when we've got it around). The linseeds made a lovely addition though, and added some texture to the bread, as well as lots of omega-3.

What is seasonal about this recipe: Flour is always in season! Although as it's spring and all the nice herbs are popping out of the soil, this is a great time to experiment with different herbs in this bread. I really want to make some with dill.

What I learned from this recipe: That I am, in fact, capable of making beer bread, and that I have a near-psychotic compulsion to bake.

What I will change next time: I definitely want to try and make a wholewheat version. According to the fantastic blog Farmgirl Fare, all that really takes is a little bit more beer to make up for the denseness of wholewheat flour.

1 comment:

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