By Lyn Potter
Last week we were warned that bread could soon be rationed to one loaf per customer. The shelves of our local supermarket were running empty. Luckily the Maui gas pipeline leak has now been fixed but there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again.
What would a week be without bread? There are only so many pikelets, crackers, muffins and pancakes that can fill the gap. With this thought in mind I decided to start practicing my bread making skills at home again.
The best bread I ever made was a sourdough bread from our colonial past. You make a starter by boiling up hops (used in brewing beer) and potatoes. It had a great texture and flavor but it was a lengthy process. Could there be a quicker version?
The beer was still flowing, and Dominion Breweries assured us there would be no shortage in the foreseeable future. So I googled for beer bread. Up came dozens of almost identical recipes. This beer bread sounded seriously good as it was supposedly
· Incredibly easy to make
· Had very few ingredients
· No kneading involved
· No waiting around for the bread to rise
· Great texture, taste and aroma.
I fired the oven up to temperature and raided the beer fridge for a bottle of dark ale. After that it was child’s play to tip all the ingredients into a bowl and give them a thorough mixing. I scraped the batter into a loaf tin baked it.
An hour later out came what can best be described as a brick. The bread was too dense and the beer flavour too strong and bitter. It was almost inedible. My trust in cyberspace cooks was somewhat dented.
I searched Google again to see if I could get to the root of the problem. A few others had had similarly awful results. I now discovered it was really important to sieve the flour first and to mix all the ingredients as lightly and quickly as possible (as you do for muffins).
I also changed to a paler brew (Monteith’s original ale) which is lightly malted with a hoppy tang and a hint of caramel and berry sweetness. To add to the sweetness I dissolved a tablespoon of honey in a small amount of the beer before adding it to the batter.
It worked. The loaf was lighter. There was a hint of malt but it was not too strong and bitter. The crust was crispy and the inside tender. It was perfectly edible.
There are many variations you can try on this recipe. Some cooks add sundried tomatoes or herbs to add to the flavour. Melted butter can be used to enrich the bread, or poured over the top after baking to soften the crust. For a fruity loaf dried apricots or raisins can be added. Or you can do as Jo Seagar does and sprinkle some cheese on the top before baking.
But we liked it plain, served warm out of the oven and thickly spread with butter. It was better still toasted the next day with some camembert and homemade sticky red onion jam alongside.
Beer bread is a convenient recipe to have on hand in case of emergency. But it’s a quick bread, rather than traditional yeast baked bread. Despite the accolades it has received on the internet do not expect perfection! Given the choice I’d much rather eat some tasty, crunchy, chewy ciabatta.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
3 cups of flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
I tablespoon of honey
1 can/bottle of light beer (make up to 400 ml with water if necessary)
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add salt.
Dissolve the honey in a small amount of the beer.
Pour beer over the top of the dry ingredients. Stir all lightly and quickly together to make a batter. It doesn’t matter if it is still slightly lumpy.
Scrape batter into a well-greased loaf pan
Bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown.
Leave it to cool down before slicing.
It will keep for a couple of days and tastes especially good toasted.
source: newshub archive