There are 3 things I do when I’m having an off day. The first is to go for a long bicycle ride; it clears my mind and allows me to sort through all of my thoughts. The second is to cook up something healthy and hearty; it relaxes me. And the third is to call my best friend…for no other particular reason but for the fact that she makes me laugh and forget about whatever was bogging me down.
That girl is hilarious. From time to time, one of these days shows up and is all like “oh heyyy what’s up? I’m here to ruin the next 24 hours for you.” And so in the past year I have really learned to take these small simple steps in order to wake up the next morning guaranteed to be like BAM. NEW DAY. LET’S DO THIS.
A few months ago we went to Sacramento Capitol Beer Fest. They had rows and rows of tables offering cold craft beers to sample as far as the eye could see. Nestled right in between the capitol and the golden Tower Bridge, it was quite the epic day. I tried a local beer called Ruhstaller and me likey…so when I spotted one of their craft coffee porter collaborations with Old Soul at Cost Plus, I had to have it. They grow their hops right off 80! Support local growers! Sweet!
Instead of drink it lazily by the pool, which looking back now seems like it would have been equally rewarding, I decided instead to cook something with it. Enter, whole grain beer bread.
Father’s Day is coming up, and I’d say this loaf of bread is a bit like my father, hard and rigid on the exterior, but a total softy in on the inside. Don’t kill me for revealing your secrets, Pops. It’s got a subtle sweetness…but the type of beer you use largely determines the flavor. Depending on what type of beer you mix it with, vary the ingredients accordingly (ie. I used a dark coffee porter and added cinnamon, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and oats to the crust..if you’re using a fruitier beer you could mix in cranberries or orange zest….or if you’re using a pale beer you could add garlic and cheese to make it savory). This recipe is very standard and can really be customized depending on how you want it to turn out. And if Keystone lite is more your jam you could add in some garbage from your waste basket. Just kiddin’, mama didn’t raise no beer snob.
Beer bread is so easy because you don’t have to use yeast and knead the daylights out of it. The beer and the sugar does the work for you! Yay for chemistry!
See them mixing? Science, you are so cool. The fermentation of the sugar by the little yeasty fungus gives off gas bubbles, and the air pockets that form as a result allow the dough to rise when it cooks. Because the beer is carbonated, this step has already been taken care of for you. Thanks, beer, I love you. Have you thanked your beer yet, today?
This bread is soooo good sliced right out of the oven, it should be illegal. But I am so very glad it is not. Hell, who am I kidding, I’d eat it anyway.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (I have not tried using gluten free flour yet!) & 1 cup white flour
- 2 T sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 oz beer (could also be soda/GF beer/non-alcoholic beer but the alcohol cooks off, anyway)
- oil for greasing pan (I used coconut)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional, I added this because I used a coffee porter)
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- a pinch of rolled old fashioned oats for the crust
- Begin by heating your oven to 375 degrees and greasing a small 9″ standard 1-lb loaf pan.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt (and cinnamon or other herbs you might be using).
- Pour beer into flour mixture and mix. Put your back into it and it will quickly begin to form a pasty dough. Do not overmix!
- Add in cherries and chocolate and transfer the dough into the greased loaf pan.
- Sprinkle loaf with oats and bake for 50 minutes. Good toppings include earth balance vegan butter, coconut oil, peanut butter, jam, or honey. The beer flavor will mellow out as the bread cools so don’t think the taste is that strong at first bite. Enjoy!
I’ve been listening to Sharon Van Etten’s new album a lot lately. It’s called Are We There and it’s every bit as insightful as it is soulful. A few of the songs are really filled with a lot of feeling, and I have fallen in love with one in particular. It’s called Every Time the Sun Comes Up and is the last song on the album. I would love to see her at a live show, sometime. I had these slow bluesy beats going and the smell of fresh baked bread throughout my house. How can a day end badly with these two ingredients in the recipe? Answer: ’tis impossible 🙂