Sunday, October 24, 2010

beer bread

Is there anything better than fresh baked bread? Some of my favorite childhood memories are of opening the front door and smelling yeast, flour, honey. Watching my mom pound down dough and then setting it above the wood fireplace for its second rising. Straight from the oven and slathered in butter, it was heaven.

A few years ago I went through a short lived phase where I was baking all our bread. It was a high caloric dream indulgence of fresh baked slices with butter and jam at night and then piles of french toast every other day (we could not waste any bread!). Oh, and BLTs, lots of BLTs- anything to let the bread shine. It was wonderful but very time consuming.

Now when I want fresh bread from the oven, I make this: beer bread. It is laughably easy but so satisfying: just a quick whisk of dry ingredients then fold in the beer and it is ready to bake. The beer helps serve as the leavening agent for the bread. It is dense and full of nuttiness from the oats and hops from the beer.

I love to have this with soup- it is easily mixed together and while the soup simmers, the bread bakes and is ready to eat for a simple super. I also think it is too perfect for breakfast. I have a real crush on this bread.

It is lovely from the oven and but also very good toasted the next day. I do confess, that by the third day, it is done. But that is okay because there are rarely any leftovers that remain that long. This recipe is from The Joy of Cooking.

Beer Bread

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups light or dark beer (but not stout), cold or at room temperature but not flat

1) Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

2) Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl all the dry ingredients

3) Add the beer. Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened. (please be careful to not over mix). Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.