As summer fades and trails cooler weather in its wake, the kitchen oven becomes our friend once again. Yay, kitchen oven [muah!].
Sorry, Florida and South Texas. You’re still screwed.
When the tree outside my kitchen window begins to blush its rusty red autumn glow, I develop an inexplicable need to bake bread. Maybe it’s my northern European roots — my grandmothers were bread-bakers, one and all — because the impulse runs deep. Like the squirrels who have been half-burying walnuts in every pot on my deck. Surely they realize that half-buried is 50% not buried enough, but they seem compelled to do it anyway.
So … maybe not exactly like the squirrels, because I bake the bread, like, all the way through. But, you know, compelled. Like squirrels. With their nuts. And stuff. [Awkward silence]
(Dammit, SoupAddict, think your metaphors all the through before you use them.)
So … anyway … now, you’ve had beer bread before, right? What makes this recipe different, you ask, eyebrow cocked.
Well, I’ll tell ya: It’s the only beer bread recipe you really need. Delicious on its own — sweet, savory and salty, all in one — it’s also a fine host for your favorite quick bread add-ins.
Nuts? Yes. Herbs and spices? Yes. Onions? Yup.
Caramelized onions? Hell, yup.
Cheese? Yes, please.
Olives mustard leeks scallions chives bacon sun dried tomatoes salami smashed bananas zucchini sunflower seeds jalapenos garlic.
You get the picture.
Then there’s the prep time: five minutes, max. One bowl, one spatula, one pan. Done.
And the best part: experiment with different beers. A dark honey lager will produce something richer than Bud Light. Try a honey lager with sharp cheddar cheese and chives, and Bud Light with Italian herbs and sun dried tomatoes.
Oh, and it all goes really, really well with soup. But then, you knew I was going to say that.
Have It Your Way Beer Bread
adapted from Foodnetwork.com
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 55 minutes
Yield: One loaf, about 8 one-inch slices
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat flour (or use all-purpose)
1 tablespoon baking powder (non-aluminum is best)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar (granulated or raw)
12 ounces your favorite beer
2 tablespoon butter, melted
coarse finishing salt, for topping (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Butter the inside of a loaf pan, or spray well with non-stick spray, and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and beer and mix to combine. (If using add-ins, add them now and stir.) The dough should be stick-to-your-fingers sticky.
4. Pour dough into the loaf pan and smooth evenly with a spatula. Bake for 55 minutes.
5. At the last 5 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with butter (use it all), sprinkle with the coarse salt (if using) and return to oven to finish.
6. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.