Monday, April 20, 2020

Baking in the time of Corona - More EZ Than I Thought

Twenty-four days ago, the 13th day of mandated social distancing here in Arizona, I found that I had turned in my man-card and turned to the act of baking to fill the time (and my enlarging tummy.)  On that day, I posted to FaceBook about my first-ever attempt at a quick-bread from scratch. 

A sliced home-made loaf of beer bread.
Beer Bread - Photo by Dan Moyes

This is a beer-bread, where the carbonation of the beer, along with a little baking powder, replace the yeast. It's a quick-bread because it doesn't have to raise and be kneaded. You just mix it all up in a bowl, pour it into a greased baking pan and throw it into a 350-degree (F) oven for an hour. My first attempts were made using Michelob Ultra (left in my garage fridge by visitors a few weeks ago). I made several loaves over a week or two and they were all quite good. 

I shared a loaf with our cross-street neighbors and got thankful raves!!

But now, the Michelob is all gone...No problem, there are other things that have been left in that garage refrigerator. And I'm an experimenter anyway.

First, I tried a can of raspberry-flavored seltzer water from Kroger's. It worked -- the texture was good and the flavor was OK. The berry didn't come through and the bread lacked a certain degree of bitter which probably comes from the hops in the Michelob Ultra. I probably won't try that again. 

The next thing I found in the refrigerator was a bottle of Hop Knot IPA from Four Peaks Brewing in Scottsdale. Well, if the berry-seltzer mix lacked the hops bitter, this IPA should fix that, right? In mixing the dough, I found that the Hop Knot presented a prominent fragrance of citrus (grapefruit?) with a touch of pineapple. "Well," I thought, "This should be good!" As in the case of the berry-seltzer loaf, it baked well and exhibited a good texture. The first heel piece, plated while still, warm soaked up a pat of melting butter attractively. My mouth watered. 

About then, my beloved Glenda asked for a moment's help with her iPhone. I can't say no to her! Finishing the tech task, I turned to find our bichon-frise dog, Dak, walking out of the room with MY slice of buttered bread in his mouth. Damn! Four stars from the dog! Oh, well, back to the bread knife.

Once I got the second piece buttered, I found the flavor of the bread made from the hoppy IPA to be fine, but not outstanding. The fragrance of the citrus carried through to the finished bread. I did not notice a citrus flavor. The hoppy bitter was there -- and perhaps just a touch too strong. The bread didn't have the sweet wheat finish of other breads; providing a light bitter after taste. Like the berry-seltzer recipe, I probably won't try this one again. But, like the berry-seltzer loaf, we certainly will eat all of this one!

What to do in this time of quarantine? I know, for my next loaf I think I'll try Corona --  without the lime.

Here's the basic recipe:

Quick and easy beer bread

One and one-half hours
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour
Cooling: 20 minutes

NOTE:   Not intended for the gluten intolerant or those on carbohydrate-restricted diets


2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour -- NOT self-rising)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup granulated white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
*¼ cup old-fashioned oatmeal (optional)
*¼ cup cracked wheat (optional)
*1 TBSP powdered milk (optional)
¼ cup melted butter
1 egg
1-12 ounce can or bottle of beer


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease or non-stick spray a standard loaf pan (glass or metal)
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients ensuring a complete mix
Add egg and beer and mix well but don’t over-stir – don’t “beat” the mix
                A proper dough mix should be thoroughly “wet” but not “creamy.” It will be heavy and sticky
Pour/scrape dough mix into loaf pan
Drizzle melted butter over top of loaf
Bake at 350 F. for one hour - when done, a table knife inserted to the loaf will come out clean
Cool on a rack – slice - enjoy

As this is not a yeast bread, it will be somewhat heavy, but with the CO2 from the beer and the added baking powder, it should raise nicely while baking and have a chewy, bubbled interior and a crunchy crust.

You can get a less crunchy crust by stirring the melted butter into the dough mix rather than drizzling it over the un-baked loaf.

*The optional grains and dry milk add character to the loaf and may be omitted if you don’t care for them. If you do add the optional extra grains, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of room-temperature water to the dough mixture for your desired consistency.

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