I still remember the first time I layered corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian dressing between two slices of rye bread to create a Reuben. Or the first time I pulled moist, flaky fish out from under an oven broiler. Sometimes a recipe will introduce an unshakeable, crave-worthy flavour combination. Sometimes it can unlock an invaluable kitchen skill. And sometimes, like in the case of beer bread, it can blow your mind.
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ cup of sugar
1 tin of beer
How to make it:
1. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Lightly coat a bread pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and pour the batter into the bread pan. Cook it for 45 minutes to an hour, or until you can slide a knife into the center of the loaf and remove it cleanly.
3. Let the bread cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.
My sister Claire brought this recipe home from university (surprised?). She makes it with white flour, a little salt, and Castle Lager. I crafted this batch with whole-wheat flour, a dark Ale, and a brushing of melted butter. Your beer bread is up to you. Whatever beer you use will tinge your bread with its flavours.
Amazed that I could cook delicious bread in about an hour (did I mention with beer?), I contacted Bill Oliva, executive chef and baker at Delmonico’s in New York, to ask him how beer bread works: “Baking powder makes the dough rise and the sugar activates the yeast in the beer,” he says. “You can use any beer, but not one with a high alcohol content.”
The glory of all this is that now you can eat your beer too. In fact, for best results, serve a fresh bottle of the beer you used to bake alongside a slice from your fresh-baked bread. Then eat. And drink.
The other night I went to the supermarket and looked at the packaged bread for sale. I spun each bag to the ingredients list, noticed that beer wasn’t listed, immediately put them back on the shelf, and went home to make beer bread.
The next time you’re staring down a bag of Wonder bread, I encourage you to do the same.