I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cheap Alcohol And Me

Here are two things you may or may not know about me:

1. Before I was ever a really-and-truly pastry chef, I was a mad crazy baker. In winter I would bake breads most weekends (by hand). I own a whole lot of bread books, and I loved trying all sorts of interesting things - quinoa, toasted pine nuts, flax seed and so on. Strangely, no matter what the ingredients, or what I did, my bread ALWAYS came out the same. Tasted pretty bloody marvellous with lashings of salty butter, but otherwise quite unremarkable. Since I've now been schooled in the art of bread making, strangely I've lost all interest in it. I've not baked bread (at home) in...well, a long time.

2. I am allergic to alcohol. It won't kill me, but it does make me go all red, feel quite fevery, and itch like the dickens. When I met DH, one of his hobbies was wine collecting. Ummm, yeah - enter the wife who drinks no wine, exit the wine collecting hobby (much to his dismay). DH also had a bit of a thing for boutique beers - wheat beers, European beers, fruit beers and so on. Since I couldn't help much on that front either, the beer thing also went by the wayside. Given DH's cultured palate of taste buds, you might find it interesting that he is totally addicted to Pepsi Max. Literally an addiction. When we met he would easily motor his way through 6 litres. A DAY. Nowadays he is a lot more restrained, but suffice it to say even if we have not a crumb in the cupboard, we'll have a bottle of Pepsi Max lurking. Our friends know this about us, and often comment that our house is the only house where you might get offered a glass of red, but you're much more likely to get offered a glass of...brown. Friends who might otherwise show up glass bottle in hand turn up plastic bottle in hand, knowing we'll probably appreciate it more! What can I say, we're cheap dates.

Remember those two factoids, and now keep reading.

Recently I've been reading some blog posts about making challah dough in under five minutes. Now given that I am inherently lazy, five minutes to make anything sounds like a good deal. So I started that process, only to learn that the dough needs to sit in the fridge. FOR FOUR DAYS. Having already gotten my hands a-floured, there was nothing for it. I HAD TO have some fresh bread to eat. NOW. Or as soon to now as I could get it.

I should also point out that originally I was going to post this recipe as a special present for The Baker's Wife, seeing as she is trying to save money and this bread is dirt cheap. In the photos you can even see that I used Home Brand flour. Then I realised...wait a sec...she's called The BAKER'S wife for a reason. Imagine the hell and fury in their household if TBW starting making cheap, 5 minute bread. OMG! She's be on a one way ticket to hell (where, trust me, there are no crusty artisan baguettes.) So, secretly this one is especially for you, babe. Just please don't tell The Baker about it, because then he might not be able to look me in the eye ever again.

Now, do you remember the factoids about me from above? Good. Here's where they are important. Last night, while mixing my five minute challah dough, and desperately yearning for fresh-baked bread, I remembered my Beer Bread recipe. I first tried this recipe several months ago, when I found an out of date bottle of Victoria Bitter, in a plastic trash can, sitting on the floor of my laundry room. This bottle of beer had been sitting there for some months, in the heat, the cold, the dust. What better use for beer than bread? The first attempt was a good one...it took something like 30.6 seconds for the loaf to disappear into our collective gobs. Since the recipe takes less than an hour from mixing to eating, it seemed like a good bet for my late night fresh bread yearnings.

.....except that we had no beer in the house, which is kinda essential for something called Beer Bread, don't you think?

Then I noticed that in the margins of the recipe I'd written "beer (any kind) - or any fizzy drink."

Did your lightbulb just turn on? Because mine did.

So DH and I found ourselves making Beer Pepsi Max Bread. On a Sunday night at 10pm. Really, we're that dorky.

Verdict: This loaf is freakin' fantastic. The original was a bit better, but only because it had that lovely hops/yeasty taste from the ancient beer. Since Pepsi Max is very caramel-y to begin with, that flavour came through in the bread. The texture was closer to banana bread than, say, sandwich loaf, but it was absolutely delicious spread with yet more butter (or in my case, Philly.) Dirt cheap to make, only 4 ingredients, quicker than quick and bloody lovely to eat, this one is a keeper. Baker's Wife: Maybe try it one day when he's not home...?

Beer or Pepsi Max Bread
3 cups self-raising flour
1 can beer (any kind) - or any fizzy drink (375ml)
1/2 cup sugar
Approx 1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350/180. Butter a fairly large loaf tin. Dump the flour and sugar in a bowl and mix. Pour in the can of soda and mix with a fork until combined. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until toasty brown and pulling away from the sides. Remove from the oven, brush liberally with more butter and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, flip out of the loaf. If you can resist it, cool for 5 minutes and then slice and eat. Topping is not really necessary, but then whose life isn't improved with a bit o' butter?


Weinraub Family said...

Damn you!!! I have been sooo good on my diet, but now I am off to make this. I really SHOULD NOT read your blog when I am hungry and bored. LOL

Hmmm, I have Coke (yeah sorry, I am a coke fan, not a pepsi drinker, although I would not turn it down if offered, I just always buy coke though!) in the house, and I have some yummy froo froo Hard Apple Cider beer.

???now to figure out which one to use??

ramona said...

I am SO trying this -- it sounds awesome! (but yes, mine will be Coke bread as well)

thanks for the recipe!