Be it to steam mussels or to add “just that something extra” to a stew, Stella Artois has never failed to provide the flavour I’m looking for when I add beer to my cooking. You’ll always find at least one can in my fridge. It’s not meant for drinking.
Needless to say, I find Stella to be a great ingredient. Though, it is a somewhat expensive choice. However, like wine, you really shouldn’t cook with something you wouldn’t ordinarily drink on its own. Save for honey browns or dark ales, I honestly don’t like beer, but, for some odd reason, I can stomach Stella. Besides, never cook with a dark ale, like Guinness. It turns very bitter when heated.
Besides brazing, Stella has found its way into another recipe: beer bread. Beer bread is typically a quick rising bread, which means that it uses a chemical leavener and not yeast to raise the batter. It is also a nice delivery mechanism for all those bits of cheese that you have no idea what to do with.
While I have made beer bread before, I didn’t like my original recipe, so I found and modified one from foodtv chef Robin Miller. Her recipe is very close to my original, save for the following differences. I feel she takes into account the potential acidity from the beer (ethanol has a hydroxyl group…) by adding baking soda. Her recipe includes more sugar. Her recipe uses less flour. Put together, the resulting batter produces a lighter and sweeter bread.
Stuff you’ll need:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt (1/4 tsp salt)
- 12 oz beer (because beer is mostly water, you can use fluid ounces)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped herbs (dill is what I recommend)
- 1 cup of coarsely chopped cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp water
- Coarsely chop your soft or medium firm cheeses. You want to find bits of melted cheese in the finished bread. If you have hard cheese like Parmesan, shred it finely. This is bread, not a mine field.
- Finely chop your herbs. Try not to pulverize the herbs into a paste. The resulting liquid will actually colour the bread so that it will go well with green eggs and ham.
- As usual, sieve the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl that can accomodate all of the ingredients. Even if you purchased pre-sifted flour, as Jim Dodge, master baker from the New England Culinary Institute, says, depending on the humidity of your kitchen and how your flour is stored, sifting aerates the flour, which makes it easier for the leavener to raise the bread as it cooks.
- Either lubricate a loaf pan with cooking spray or vegetable shortening.
- Mix the egg and water into a small bowl. This is an egg wash. It will be added to the top of the bread.
- Preheat oven to 400Â°F
- Add the herbs and cheese to the flour mixture.
- Make a well in the flour mixture.
- Add the sugar, beer, and olive oil to the center of the well.
- Mix until all of the flour is incorporated. You will end up with a thick gloppy mess.
- Scrape down the sides and continue mixing until everything is well distributed and somewhat even. I found that using a silicone spatula made the world of difference when I was working this batter.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan
- Optionally, make a bakers’ slice down the center of the bread with a VERY sharp knife. This will allow the bread to puff up.
- Gently brush on the egg wash
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- At this time, employ the wooden tooth pick test. If you don’t have a tooth pick, use a wooden skewer. Essentially you need to keep baking the loaf until a sharpened wooden implement inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Unmould onto a tea towel to cool
- Slice and serve warm.