Friday, April 8, 2011

Beer Bread

I have never been a fan of beer. In fact, it makes me gag.

I will never understand how someone prefers a beer in the dead of summer over a glass of ice cold lemonade, sweet tea or even water. On the flip side, I'm sure that many people would say the same about me.

However, I'm not a teetotaler by any means. I'm a walking cliché because I enjoy a fruity little cocktail every now and then. I'm super envious of wine drinkers. Wine is something I could definitely get into if I could only, again, get past the taste.

Whenever my husband and I have a party, we are usually left with a couple cans of beer hanging around. Short of dumping it down the sink to create room in the fridge - which would be a sin, even if I don't drink it - I'm usually left finding ways to use it up.

The first recipe I have that requires beer is a killer chili that calls for a can of beer, cup of coffee, chocolate and brown sugar. It sounds weird and slightly unorthodox, but it's smashing delicious.

The next standby is beer battered fish and chips. Enough said.

Then I found this recipe for beer bread. Oh, you delightful little carb. This bread is so versatile you can throw virtually anything into it. You could probably even say it's foolproof. It's the perfect partner for my infamous chili or fabulous with dippy eggs and bacon in the morning.

Thankfully this bread doesn't get you drunk. Otherwise, I would seriously be considered the town lush and wouldn't care one bit.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Farm Girl Fare

3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounce can of beer - any brand is good, but honey lager is my favorite in this recipe

This recipe is also super fabulous on it's own, but I opted to make the Italian version for the blog. For more variations, please see below.

To continue on with the Italian version, add to the basic batter:

1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 minced garlic cloves
½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan.

Combine the flour (it's very, very, very important to sift the flour in this recipe), sugar, baking powder, salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add melted butter. 

Just a note: If you want your crust to be hard and crunchy, apply melted butter over top the bread just before baking. Otherwise, just add it to the mixture. You'll still get a nice crust to it, just not as crispy.

Slowly stir in the beer and mix just until combined. The batter will be thick and lumpy.
Spread batter into prepared loaf pan. Brush with the egg glaze if desired. I don't but you certainly can. This step adds shine.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Other variations:

Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped tablespoon of each.

Dill & Chive: Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and ¼ cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.

Rosemary & Feta
Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese to the basic mix.

Other Additions: Any dried or fresh herbs; ½ cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); ½ cup finely chopped onion, ½ cup chopped scallions; ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, ½ cup whole wheat flour or ½ cup oats in place of ½ cup of the all-purpose flour.

Yield: One 8-inch loaf.

Happy Baking!