When I was looking for the recipe for the lovely pear bread I baked a few weeks ago, I stumbled on a recipe for beer bread. Since I am naturally lazy, I was very intrigued by the fact that it listed so few ingredients and seemed to require so little effort...
In fact, the recipe looked so simple and quick that I thought perhaps the Joy of Cooking had omitted something important, like some ingredients or a key step or two. But a quick online search confirmed that it really is that easy!
While I was rooting around online to make sure the Joy of Cooking had not had some sort of senior moment, I discovered Farmgirl Fare, a lovely blog written by Susan, a native Californian who lives on a 240-acre farm in Missouri with 1 farmguy, 7 donkeys, 3 dogs, 6 cats, sheep and countless chickens. Although she's got good recipes, the thing I am most sold on is the adorable photos of her menagerie -- see below for a recent example (one of these donkeys is named "Evie" -- quel coincidence, no???)
I'm happy to report that this bread is just as easy as I'd hoped. It took me all of 10 minutes to get the bread batter mixed up and into the oven and clean up! Now that is the kind of recipe I can get behind...
The end result is marvelous -- a chewy bread with an appealing tang from the beer and the sharp cheddar and a nice little kick of flavor from the dill and the caraway. It makes a great accompaniment to a hearty soup or stew and also toasts nicely. Added bonus: your house will fill with a mouth-watering aroma while the bread is baking.
So go, bake a loaf. It will only take a few minutes and should help get your family and friends all "hopped" up for the holidays (sorry, I tried to resist but the pun won in the end.) Also, timing is getting tight but, in case you have not seen them, check out my three holiday gift guides for food, gadgets & gear, and books for foodies.
The recipe below is my own adaptation of Farmgirl Susan's recipe and the Joy of Cooking's beer, cheese and scallion bread recipe.
Beer Bread With Cheddar & Dill
Makes one loaf
* 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
* 2 tsps granulated sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 Tbsp baking powder (make sure it's fresh, otherwise your bread won't rise...)
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
* 2 tsps caraway seeds
* 1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
* 12 ounces beer (you can use light or dark but don't use a stout -- the beer must not be flat though the temperature does not matter -- I used a Brooklyn Lager since that's what I had in the fridge)
Optional Glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda dill, caraway seeds, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. The batter will be thick.
2. Spread the batter in the greased loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
3. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool for 20 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread toasts nicely and will last for 2-3 days.
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