For years, I baked bread every week. My friends were amazed at the loaves of rye, whole wheat, potato, oatmeal and sourdough bread produced in my kitchen. I amassed a library of books to learn all I could on baking techniques, including one detailing how to build a bread oven in my back yard. Oh, I had plans. I imagined baking fabulous artisanal bread in my backyard and hosting parties, where people would admire the bread. But, that's all in the past. I stopped when I realized that I needed to cut back on my bread consumption. I'm not anti-bread by any means. I'm an addict, seriously addicted to freshly baked bread. If I didn't stop, they would find me face down in the gutter, clutching the remnants of a walnut levain. So, I stored my bread pans in the bottom of my cabinet and haven't baked a loaf in over a year. I'm a little shocked reading that.
On Sunday, I decided to make a quick bread. I rarely go off the deep end with them. In fact, I've spent hours in close proximity to banana bread and wasn't tempted at all. I decided to make beer batter bread because, for some reason I can't fathom, cooking with beer is fun. I usually have a silly grin on my face when I add it to a recipe. No, I'm not addicted to beer. It's strictly about the yeast bread, man.
This recipe is so easy, I can recall the ingredients without looking them up. It tastes good, with a moist, yeasty tasting crumb and a strange looking, but delicious crust. I suppose the bumpy crust is caused by the bubbles in the beer. Did I mention it has a yeasty taste? Sort of like the oatmeal bread I baked back in the good old days.
Here's the fun part. You mix your dry ingredients together and add 12 ounces of beer, which makes the batter foam up and threaten to spill over the edge of the bowl. Hmm, I need to get out more. Cooking with beer should not be this much fun.
After stirring the batter just enough to combine the wet and dry ingredients, you put it in a 9X5 pan The batter will be rather stiff and bumpy. Then the sexy part--you pour 4 tablespoons of melted butter on top of the batter. Just do it.
After baking for about 40 minutes, the bread comes out of the oven with a bumpy crust. In theory, you wait until it cools down before you slice it. I wonder if there are people who really do that? Will the people who actually follow that rule form a very short line on the left? If you're like me, this is what you do: cut a thick slice of piping hot bread and slather it with butter. Tell yourself that you will practice restraint and only eat this one slice. Later, tell yourself that you're a good person, and it's OK that you ate most of the entire loaf of beer batter bread (heavily buttered).
Then you put the bread pans away again, way in the back of the cabinet.
Beer Batter Bread (Williams-Sonoma)
Note: The type of beer you use will affect the taste of the bread. I used a dark Marzen beer, which gives more flavor, I think.
3 cups (15 oz/470 g) unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle of beer (12 fl. ounces/375 ml) beer, unopened and at room temperature
4 tablespoons (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter, melted, with extra fro greasing the pan
Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9X5 loaf pan
Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Open the beer and add it all at once. It will foam up. Stir just until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Pour into the pan and drizzle with the melted butter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is crusty. Let it sit in the pan for about a minute and turn it out. This bread is best eaten the day it's baked.