May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Beer Bread!

This weekend I celebrated my 24th birthday!  It was a lovely low-key day spent with Joe and Oy, and it was the perfect way to relax after an exciting three days of graduation and exploring downtown Chicago with my mom (more on that later).

While maxing-realaxing all cool I realized that we still needed to make a birthday cake! My family has always taken the term "birthday cake" pretty flexibly as we never make cake otherwise and it goes largely uneaten every time.  My dad opts for spice cake, and since CJ and I are summer birthdays we usually go the route of angel food cake and smother it in strawberries and ice cream.  Sometimes we make brownies because we actually eat them.  I think I might even have had pie on one delicious occasion.  In any case, I started surfing through my "cookbook" which is an old binder jammed with print-outs and pages torn from magazines.  I found a contender- chocolate cake with a whipped cream frosting from a Penzey's catalog- but I also came across beer bread which we got much more excited about.

We figured you bake it and can put a candle in it, so why not?  We've even talked about how if we got married we could have a "cake" that was just layers of different breads and cheeses, so it's really just putting ideals into practice.

My beer bread recipe was also pulled from Penzey's Catalog.  They give different options for toppings or mix-ins for make it sweet or savory.  I sprinkled the top of ours with rock salt and Old Bay Seasoning.  It gives it just a little kick without being overwhelming.

The batter is very simple.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, and make a hole in the middle.  Pour in your beer, and mix until smooth and sticky.  You'll probably give up on a untensil and use your hands, that's fine.

I use the darkest beer I have in the house at the time I make it- this time it was Fat Tire Amber Ale.  Supposedly the yeast in the beer is what makes it rise, so I figure the heavier the beer, the more yeast and more flavorful.

Pour your batter into a greased pan.  The oven should be set at 350 for a glass pan or 375 for a metal pan.  Sprinkle the top with your favorite seasoning.  Penzey's recommends their Italian Herb Mix, Pasta Sprinkle, or Tuscan Sunset with minced garlic and crushed red pepper.  If you're going sweet, you could mix in cinnamon, sugar, and raisins.

As I said, ours has exta virgin olive oil, coarse sea walt, and Old Bay.

Obviously, a birthday bread requires a candle, birthday song, and a wish:

 Oy was super attentive to the singing.

And then we realized that we probably shouldn't have put the candle into fresh from the oven bread- it melted into the bread!

I personally like mine doused in butter.

The Recipe

The Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1+ 1/2 TB baking powder 
1+1/2 tsp salt
1 12 oz. beer at room temperature


Preheat over to 375 for a metal loaf pan, or 350 for a glass pan. Lightly grease your pan.  Mix all dry ingredients, and make a mexx in your bowl.  Pour in your beer and mix thorooughly.  Add any spices into the mxi you want, or sprinkle on top after pouring into your pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick or knife comes out clean.
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