A to Z: Baking & Beer Bread

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Every summer during a decade of 4-H, I did time in the kitchen, working my way through cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, yeast rolls, breads, and more.  Although I never made it to the State Fair, I learned the basics.  Plus, baking skills are inherited on both sides of my family, and our annual Epiphany Open House puts the whole family to work mixing, rolling and baking over a thousand cookies for our friends.

While I didn't cook in college due to tiny dorm rooms, the freedom and flexibility of having my own apartment has opened whole new vistas for baking adventures.  Over the past eight months, I've gone through many pounds of flour, brought sweets to baby showers and office parties, and shared a fresh, homemade loaf of bread with new friends.  Not only have I discovered how much I enjoy baking, I realized that I might have a talent for it!
German chocolate cake in process, March 2016

There's a lot I'm still learning.  My little apartment kitchen has experienced a few fiascos, like the bread that didn't rise because I scalded milk and killed the yeast, or the apple muffins that started to resemble charcoal muffins, or the time I ran short of eggs while making raspberry cream cheese brownies.

Happily, those brownies were satisfied with a hastily-assembled egg substitute, and sweetened the path to new friendships at a get-together the following evening.  I figure, I'll be known for something; I'd rather be remembered as the girl who bakes, than as the girl who dumps a giant bowl of ice on the floor at the parish fish fry.  (True story.)

And so, baking has become my trademark.  I'm not up for anything too fancy, but I have a few recipes I come back to regularly, and every few weeks I challenge myself with something new.  The first step is always to warn my roommate that I'm taking over the kitchen for a few hours!

One of my standard recipes now is this beautifully yummy and easy beer bread I found during a quick internet search.  It takes literally about ten minutes to whip together, and has turned out almost perfectly each time I've made it.  Use whatever beer, ale or porter you have around, and turn out a delightfully hearty loaf with minimal effort.  It's quite impressive too, especially to people who don't bake.

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1⁄2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients and beer.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Pour melted butter over mixture.  Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.
This recipe makes a very hearty bread with a crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer a softer crust (like a traditional bread) mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.
Yes, that's it!  Sorry I don't have a picture to share, it usually gets eaten too quickly for me to remember to grab the camera.

Caveats: always, always grease the pan, and use about 1/3 cup of butter.  1/4 isn't quite enough, and in my loaf pans, 1/2 cup almost overflowed.  Also, the recipe calls for flour to be sifted, otherwise the bread will turn out like a brick.  I cheat - if you drop all the dry ingredients in the bowl, and use a whisk to mix and fluff, you'll get a perfectly fine loaf.

Enjoy!  And do leave a comment if you have a good recipe to share.  I'm always looking for new baking challenges.


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