Thursday, January 26, 2012

Solid Beer

Meet Virginia by Train
Today's post is about seeing things in a new way - like Virginia.  I love this song for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this guy has really taken the time to get to know this girl.  He sees what some may perceive as her flaws and loves her the more for them.  It's exciting for me to discover the unexpected about people - and food - and get to see them in a different light.  The phrase in this song, "wears high heels when she exercise" always makes me think of my friend, Wendy.  Not that she literally does this - but she DID show up to go golfing in high heel wedges once when on a double date with our husbands.  Now, Wendy is one of those people that I had pegged very differently upon initial acquaintance.  Getting to know the "real" her was a big surprise and she has become one of my absolute dearest friends.  Underneath all that big blonde hair is one of the most loving and caring people I know.  Now, let's talk bread . . . .

"Bread is nothing more than solid beer, and beer is nothing more than liquid bread." My baking teacher made this statement in class one day.  Huh.  My mind really stopped and kind of hung up right there, like the whirling rainbow wheel on my Mac.  Processing, processing, . . . .  

I'd really never thought of it like that before.  Mostly because beer isn't a part of my life.  I cook with it now and then, like when I try, yet AGAIN, to recreate the amazing Flemish stew I had in Bruges, Belgium several years ago.  On a day to day basis, though, beer just isn't in my thoughts.  Apparently it's in many other people's thoughts though!  

After water and tea, beer is the most widely consumed beverage in the WORLD.  That makes it the number one alcoholic beverage consumed in the WORLD.  It's existence can be traced back to around 3000 BC and there are even laws regulating it in the Code of Hammurabi!  My father used to drink it when I was a very little girl and, sometimes, let me sip some of the foam off the top.  As a young mother I heard from other moms that beer was a great way to increase your milk supply if you were nursing - or you could just take yeast tablets.  Which leads us to the fact that makes what my teacher said very logical - beer is all about the yeast - and so is bread, right?

I searched out recipes that used beer for the yeast in bread and found the one I'm passing along to you today.  Beer bread is like no other.  If made right, the inside can be as springy as regular bread.  

And by "made right" I mean, you have to sift together the dry ingredients.  This keeps the ingredients light and airy and you need that air.  This bread belongs to the quick bread family.  There's no kneading involved and it is truly the quickest bread I've ever made - even when taking the time to properly sift the ingredients.  If you would prefer to use a non-alcoholic beer, you'll need to sprinkle in a bit of yeast, about 2 teaspoons or a packet.  Also, you can either stir the melted butter into the dough to keep the surface soft or pour it on the top to give it a bit of crust.  I opted for the latter and was not disappointed.  Oh, it's sooo good!  It goes perfectly with soups on a cold winter night, but, also makes a tasty breakfast - especially when topped off with a yummy jam - like this peachy habanero or berry rhubarb concoction. 

On second thought - why wait for breakfast?  Meet Virginia, er, I mean my bread - or should I say, meet my beer?

Beer Bread
Printable Recipe Card
makes 1 loaf

3 cups flour
3 t. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 c. sugar
1 (12 oz) can or bottle of beer
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

SIFT TOGETHER THE DRY INGREDIENTS into a bowl.  I just use a fine mesh sieve like this -

and shake it side to side, giving it a tap with my other hand.  Pour in the beer and stir just until combined.

 Spread batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top.

Bake for one hour.  Let cool for 15 minutes in pan before turning out to cool further on a rack.  Slice and enjoy!  I sure did!

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