Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Easy as 1, 2, 3...

I can remember eating beer bread since I was quite little, and sneakily thinking, "Ha ha ha. Beer! I'm 8, and I'm getting beer!" Silly kids. They just don't understand that the inebriating effects of alcohol are cooked off when you add it into things such as bread. Which might explain why my picky girl child wouldn't touch the stuff for the longest time. The boy child will eat nearly ANYTHING, the embodiment of the human garbage disposal. But, ever since her dad gave her a sip of his beer a few years back... the girl was disgusted at the thought of anything containing the libation. After much coaxing, I finally got her to try some bread. It was love at first bite. Same for the Mr., who had never had it before he met me. Good thing it's the easiest bread in the world to make. We eat lots of it around here!

Beer is one of the oldest products of civilization. It might very well have been the pre-cursor to the invention of leavened bread. In the early days, beer provided protein to people that unfermented grain just couldn't supply. Found on an ancient Sumerian engraving, the depiction of bread being baked, crumbled into water to form a mash, and then made into a drink that was recorded as making people feel "exhilarated, wonderful, and blissful!" Yup. That's beer!

Beer Bread
1 (12 oz.) bottle or can of beer, room temperature
3 C. self-rising flour
3 Tbs. sugar

See? Literally... easy as 1, 2, 3! As far as selecting the beer goes, our two favorites are Guiness and *cover your eyes all you beer snobs*... PBR!

My favorite is the Guiness bread. The stout beers give the bread a sweeter, more robust flavor. While the lighter American lager-type beers produce something similar to an insanely more delicious variant on the long-beloved white bread. You can use any beer that you like. Experiment. Find one that you like best. But, be forewarned: whatever beer you choose, your bread will take on the same flavor... just in somewhat milder tones. 

I distinctly remember one year when the kids' dad bought a 6-pack of a limited edition winter ale. Now, I love me some specialty winter ales. Blue Moon's Winter Abbey Ale is my all-time favorite. But, whatever he brought home tasted like Christmas in a bottle. And, not in a good way. It was as if someone infused the beer with a pine branch, and simmered in a few poinsetta leaves for good measure. Neither one of us could stand it. I figured I'd use it to make bread. Surely the sugar, flour, and some time in a toasty oven would soften that flavor. Wrong-o! It tasted like a loaf of freshly baked Pine-Sol. So I'm just sayin'... careful what you add!

Grab your mixing bowl. Toss in 3 C. of self-rising flour. *It is of utmost importance that you use self-rising flour. It already contains a leavening agent. Without it, you'll end up with a dense beer brick... rather than a loaf.* Add the 3 Tbs. of sugar. I like to use Sugar In The Raw. But, plain ol' granulated sugar works just fine. Then, slowly poor in the room-temperature beer. Stir until ingredients are just combined. It will be lumpy and gluey, and look like this:

That's probably the least appetizing photo you'll ever see on this blog. But, trust me... pour this into a greased and floured loaf pan, bake at 350* for an hour, and you'll end up with a beautiful loaf like this:

This beer goes great with hearty soups and stews. You can use it to sop up all the lovely broths and gravies that remain at the bottom of your bowl. But, it is also quite a treat first thing in the morning, toasted with a little apple butter smeared on top. Yum! One of my favorite fall treats!

And, feel free to get creative with it! This bread lends itself well to mix-ins. Dried cranberries, sundried tomatoes, basil, cheeses, rosemary. Your options are unlimited. And, if you find a combo that you truly fall in love with, please let me know!

Check back with me tomorrow. We start the Next Food Network Star play-along challenge!


Jocelyn said...

What an easy recipe.....I have to try it!!!! I love fresh breads especially when the temps cool down and I can turn on the oven!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

saryberry said...

My loaf is cooling as we speak! I can't wait to try it