Beer bread

February 1, 2010

For the longest time, we were unable to make beer bread.  Any beer earmarked for this project would simply get imbibed instead.

And then we finally stumbled upon a solution: truly terrible beer.  You know, the cheapest 24-pack you can find… the kind that tastes like slightly hoppy water?  No temptation to drink it, none whatsoever–but oh, it makes such scrumptious bread!

Beer bread

  • 1.5 cup white flour
  • 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 bottle (or can) beer
  1. Combine all dry ingredients.
  2. Mix with beer.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes at 375F.

Buttermilk boule

November 17, 2009

Mr. Onepot considers buttermilk unspeakably vile.  You should see how he gags when he walks into the kitchen to see me chugging it straight from the bottle in front of the open fridge!

…Ok, perhaps I should apologize for imprinting that image onto your visual cortex.  Let’s start over.   Obviously, buttermilk is delicious.  But, even if you’re of the school of thought that considers it to be a no-good, very-bad dairy abomination when consumed in its unadulterated form, surely you’ve tried baking with it?  Something like this, perhaps:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (30 seconds in the microwave will do the trick)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 cups white flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  1. Combine the honey, water, and yeast; let them get all warm and bubbly for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and knead until it’s all combined.
  3. Let your dough rest for ~45 minutes in a warm place.  Punch it down and return it to its resting spot for another 30 minutes or so.
  4. Shape your loaf into a jolly boule.  Don’t forget to oil/butter the top.
  5. Bake for ~50 minutes on 400F, on wax paper or in a greased baking pan.
  6. Meet pure happiness:

Oh, and you probably shouldn’t tell your sister that you’ll bring her half a loaf of bread the next day… because if she doesn’t know about it, how is she going to miss it?  Just sayin’.

Irreverent bread

October 16, 2009

IMG_3557

Yes, you could call me possessed: this baking bug, dormant for well over a decade, is finally wide awake.

I suppose the thing I most resented about baking all these many long years was the seeming anal retentiveness of it: the need to get out all those cups and spoons and bowls!  and wash them afterwards!  …Definitely in violation of my one-pot philosophy.

(Dear serious bakers, please take no offense!  This is no critique of you and your lovely craft; I’m just being honest about something that my impatient, impulsive self can’t quite bear.)

And then, for reasons I can’t recall, I got it into my head that I would make bread.  And without a recipe, thank you very much.  Turns out, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.  Who knew!  So, here’s my irreverent bread.

Dump into a bowl:

  • 3 cups of flour (e.g., 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar

(Please note that I’ve experimented with  a little less and a little more of salt, baking powder, yeast, and sugar.  Sometimes–gasp!–I don’t even measure them.  Yes, reader, I just scoop or dump blindly.  It’s all good.)

Then, mix it all together with some warmish water.  …I did just say some water.  Or should I quote my grandmother and say, “until the dough is neither too dry nor too wet”?  Believe me, you’ll know.  But if this makes you really uncomfortable, why don’t you start with 1 cup.  Dump 1/2 of it in right away, and then add more as needed.  The whole time,  a stern baking angel will be pecking at you from your right shoulder: “Do you really need more?  Because dough that’s drier bakes better!”  Feel free, though, to tell the angel to shut up if you’re not quite sure the first time around.  Because it will turn out just fine.

Once you have mixed the dough, wrap the bowl it’s in in a kitchen towel and let it rest.  Thirty minutes in a cozy, warm spot–like your microwave–is perfect.  Then, pull it out and beat it up while it’s still in the original bowl.  Once nicely kneaded, the dough goes back into the womb-like place for another 30 minutes.

Toward the end of that period, you can start warming the oven.  My oven is happy at 400F, but you probably already know if yours runs hot or cool.  If you have no idea, starting someplace like 375F is a safe bet.

And now it’s time for the final beating!  Once you’ve punched your dough into submission one more time (and here’s where you should hear that satisfying yeasty sigh that goes “woosh” under your hand), put it into an oiled bread pan.  Or, shape it into a loaf on an oiled baking surface.

And into the oven it goes, for 45-50 minutes.

You will know when it’s done.