Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beer Bread: Not Everything Turns Out Perfectly

The newest adventure that has been unfolding in my kitchen is bread making. Obviously, the same as other mothers who have a toddler and/or infant, quick and easy are the key words for me when it comes to cooking anything. It seems like this would throw bread-making out the window. But I've actually found that there are really easy, and really fast ways for having delicious homemade breads.

The first bread that I'm playing around with is actually a quick bread, but it tastes every bit as fluffy as yeast rising breads. The secret? Beer. Yup. Beer.

One of the science experiments I am looking forward to doing while homeschooling my children is the famous volcano experiment. You know the one, where you put baking soda into the volcano and play with different acidic and basic "ingredients" to see which ones make the volcano erupt? Well, the concept is at work here. The beer "feeds" off of the sugar and baking soda to release CO2, filling the dough with sweet pockets of air and causing it to rise. The result is the nice fluffy and somewhat sweet tasting bread. If you are doing the experiment with your child, or if they are doing it at their school, this is a great, fast activity that really drives home the "real world" relevance to the volcano experiment.  (can you tell I've been looking into preschool and kindergarten curricula?) As long as you don't mind doing an activity that involves beer with your child.

I got my recipe from but I changed it up a little. I don't use self-rising flour, so I used my own substitute, and I like the bread a little sweeter so I added more sugar. If you are doing this in conjunction to the volcano experiment, I suggest using the baking soda and salt version rather than the all-purpose flour, because then your child can see the active ingredients being added. Which is a more concrete learning experience than just being told "it's in there"

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbl baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
about 3/4ths 12 oz bottle Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold (remember, I'm a Cleveland Girl! but see notes below)
2 tbl butter, melted

preheat oven to 375 F (you'll want the oven to come to temperature before mixing everything together, because it only takes a minute to mix it all!) Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork or whisk very well, you want these ingredients to be evenly distributed. Pour in beer. Stir very minimally, only to incorporate the ingredients. Spoon into a medium sized loaf pan and drizzle the melted butter over the top of the loaf, coating it evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes.

 Spread with jelly or your favorite bread topping, and enjoy! I served this with Rachel's Crock Pot Corn Chowder.

I'm assuming that the recipe that says to use a whole can or bottle of beer, was meaning a can of something like Budweiser. It tasted a little too beerish when I used the whole bottle of dortmunder, so I put in a little less, and added more sugar, because we wanted a sweeter bread (As opposed to the salty taste we were getting.) I had to add a couple oz of water to make up for the lost liquid in only adding a portion of the beer. After a little experimenting, we got it closer to the taste we were going for.  You might want to play with the amount of baking soda, sugar, and adding salt as well as the kind of beer you use. I've read dark beers are better, but I'm not so convinced. I am going to try using a cheap, lighter, brand of beer later. The Dortmunder was just too bitter for this bread, and it did not taste like the alcohol was completely cooked out. It was still fun to play with, and it will be fun to see the differences in the breads. I will be updating with a new recipe once I do find the right combo!

I know that it is possible to get a tasty, sweeter bread from using this method, because a friend of mine made a loaf for me and my family while I was recovering from Evie's birth. It was so tasty that the loaf was gone in just one meal, and everyone was looking for more!

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