Friday, July 17, 2015

Easiest. Bread. Ever.

Holy cow, it's been a long time since I've had a baking post. But I have been baking.  In fact, Taco seems to like being my sling-worn sidekick around the kitchen. So here is a bread recipe that I've made at least once a week for the last month or so.

I know what you are thinking: bread is difficult.

But not beer bread.

Cheddar Scallion Beer Bread variation

Beer bread is not just the easiest bread I've ever baked, it may be the easiest thing I have ever baked. Seriously. Taco and I can get this bread ready for the oven in less time than it takes for the oven to heat up.

Here is the recipe: 
Beer Bread Master Recipe
12 oz self rising flour (3 cups)
12 oz beer (any beer will do)
1/4 c sugar (optional)
Sift flour and sugar together. Stir in beer. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 50-55minutes at 375 degrees until browned on top. Turn out of pan asap and let bread cool before slicing.  
That's it. Three ingredients. And one of which is optional.

From this basic recipe there are a million billion variations. Very simply by using different beers you can get very differently flavored bread. When I used a wheat beer the bread came out light and smelling yeasty, but Guinness yielded a loaf that was darker in color and richer in flavor. I'm looking forward to trying more styles of beer (lambic, IPA, lager, etc) and even some flavored beers for interesting results. What I have noticed is that the higher the alcohol content of the beer, the "beer-ier" the flavor. I haven't tried it, but I've heard you could actually use non-alcoholic beer if you prefer.

Additional ingredients also enhance this bread. You could dot the top with butter or pour it on melted for a shinier, more glazed crust. About 2 TBSP should do, but up to 1/4 c wouldn't hurt. You could also sprinkle cheese on top.

Cheddar & Scallion Beer Bread with butter dotted top (made with wheat beer)

You could add any number of mix-ins. I tried both cheddar and scallion (green onion), and cheddar and bacon in my loaves. Both were delicious!

Cheddar & Bacon with extra cheddar on top (made with Pilsner)

About 1 to 1 1/4 cups of any flavorful ingredient should be fantastic - cheddar or another hard cheese, scallions, sauteed onions or shallots, pine nuts or walnuts, raisins or other dried fruit, crumbled bacon (4-6 strips) or other flavorful cured meat like chorizo or proscuitto, olives (I'd blot them dry first), or any other relatively dry ingredients. You could also add chopped herbs like thyme or chive, but I'd probably use only 1/4 to 1/2 cup.  My next loaf may be feta and olives. Doesn't that sound excellent?

Mmmmm.... bacon

We've been enjoying our beer bread as toast most mornings with a cup of coffee or tea. It's so easy and perfect to keep around.  I think there will be more in our future. 

PS - I have no idea about the provenance of this recipe. It was given to me verbally by a mom friend and a quick internet search yields tons of uncredited recipes. Feel free to share your insights.

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