Continuing to “attack the stack,” I pulled a newspaper clipping out of a pile and looked at the date of May, 2008. “It’s time to check out this baby,” I thought to myself. Perusing the very short list of ingredients – only four – I noted that I had everything that was required. Nothing extraordinary on the list except for b-e-e-r! How great is it that the yeast in beer acts as a mild leavening agent, so we can use it in our baking?!
One of the comments provided by the newspaper recipe contributor was,”This bread is a canvas for you to flavor any way you choose.” Being a risk-taker in the kitchen, I decided to give my loaf a Tex-Mex type of flavor by adding a can of diced green chilies and some shredded cheddar cheese to the flour, sugar, salt, and beer. In my head I thought the flavors would meld together well.
When I sampled the final product of an inviting golden-brown-crusted loaf of bread, I was amazed. I was amazed at how awful it was! I had my volunteer food tester, aka my husband, taste it. I knew it was as nasty as it could get when my lover-of-everything-I-prepare husband said, “This is inedible!” It was bitter and had a slimy texture. So, on my Ick-Scale of one to ten this was a ten-ick. Wow, where did I go wrong?
Reviewing the recipe and the entire process, these are the possible errors I made:
1. The beer was a light beer and possibly did not have enough flavor and did not add enough body to the batter.
2. I accidentally added baking soda instead of baking powder to the flour mixture. The recipe stated that if you did not have self-rising flour you could add 3 teaspoons of baking powder to the flour to achieve the same results. Remember, I’ve mentioned this before, I am not beyond screwing up recipes by not reading them thoroughly.
3. My husband thinks the sliminess came from the diced green chilies, but I’m not sure if this is true. The recipe contributor had commented on friends adding chilies to their breads.
4. I should have gotten out two bottles of beer – one for me to drink first and then one to add to the bread!
Not wanting to accept that I had been bested by a six-ingredient Beer Bread, I decided to start over. I was more diligent about reading the recipe through and decided to forgo the Tex-Mex route for an Italian-Herb type one. I made a few other changes to the batter and stuck the second Beer Bread loaf in the oven. With trepidation, I carefully sliced the second crusty loaf and put a piece into my mouth. Okay, this is what a successful Beer Bread is supposed to taste like – finger-licking good!
So here’s my adaptation of successful Beer Bread:
*1 12 oz. can or bottle of beer. (I used a bottle of Foster’s the second time around).
*3 cups of sifted self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising flour at home, you can make it by sifting together 3 cups of all-purpose flour with 4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt).
*1/3 cup of sugar (upped from 3 T in original recipe and I would consider increasing or decreasing the sugar amount depending on what ingredients you are adding to the basic batter).
*2 2.25 oz. cans of sliced olives
*1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Italian Blend Cheese
1. In a large bowl mix together the sugar and the sifted flour. Stir in the Italian seasoning. Make a well into the flour-sugar-seasoning mixture and slowly pour in the beer. Mix until just moistened. Add the cheese and olives. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
2. Pour into a greased 9″x5″ loaf pan. Let sit for a bit to let the yeast in the beer get settled (15-30 minutes).
3. Bake at 350 degrees for a total of 45 to 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick or cake tester after 45 minutes.
4. If desired at the halfway baking point, brush melted butter on the top of the bread and sprinkle with a little garlic salt. Repeat the brushing of butter and sprinkling of garlic salt when the loaf comes out of the oven.
Cheers and good luck!