lord knows by what dereliction of duty on my part i have kept this from you for the past two years, but it seems high time, when the shutters are flung wide and unnecessary doors are unscrewed from their hinges and consigned to the alleyways, to share with y’all the simpler pleasures of the simplest of beer breads (summer is baking season, right? well, my oven works for the first time in months, so it is now). now there are lots of kinds of beer bread out there, and for some time i was all hesitant, with qualifications at the ready whenever i spoke of this beer bread – “Oh, it’s not so much bread as something between bread and a biscuit” (the above, an old photo, actually portrays it as more biscuity than the product i have been achieving of late) – but nuts to all that, right?staff of life, fools, i don’t have all day.
i have no idea how or where we came upon this recipe, only that it occurred back in December of 2009, when we were recently returned from France, and i imagine were feeling dearly the absence of the freshly baked bread with which we had grown accustomed to daily girding ourselves. in any case, it stormed into our lives, winning a permanent seat in our affection with its brash simplicity and convenient exploitation of the fact that if there were more than 3 of us in a room somewhere (any of us, really), then there was likely also to be beer afoot.
3 cups of all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
1 bottle of beer
mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredient, dump the (still sticky, somewhat more so than you would expect from bread dough) lot into a lightly greased baking dish, bake at something like 375° for around 40 minutes. there is no kneading. there is no rising. there is only beer, and then bread.
what emerges is not quite sandwich-ready, but for all other purposes (butter, jam, soup, hangovers) is heartily adequate. i’ve tried various styles of beer, and have found that i prefer a cheap lager; while when one would expect that something with a little more character, such as a stout or a rousse, could lend a dash of excitement, most such experimentation has yielded an overly pronounced yeasty taste. save it for the drinking, i say.
speaking thereof, leafing through Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land, i came across this recipe, originaly from Kenneth Roberts’ Trending Into Maine (1938), for hot buttered rum:
Pour one fair-sized drink (or jigger) of rum into an ordinary table tumbler: add one lump of sugar, a pat of butter the size of a single hotel helping, half a teaspoonful of cinnamon, fill up the tumbler with boiling water, stir well and sip thoughtfully. If too sweet, use less sugar in the next attempt. If not sweet enough, add more. If the cinnamon isn’t wholly satisfactory, try cloves. If more butter seems desirable, use more.
it is for my fondness for recipes in this spirit, and the vague and slippery culinary exploits they encourage, that i shall never be a baker.
or a skateboarder/guitarist/astronaut. no discipline.