February 18, 2009

Beer Bread Experiments and some Bean Salad

I've been baking a lot of bread lately. There have been plenty of baguettes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, countless variations on banana bread, applesauce bread with nut milk pulp and quite a bit of beer bread. I was curious about how much the quality of the beer will effect the quality of the beer bread, so I started to play around. A recipe that simply calls for 12 ounces of beer leaves a lot of interpretation to the reader. Should I just go get a Bud Lite or is it worth it to use better beer? For the sake of experimentation, my latest beer breads have been made using some microbrews my parents brought back for me from Pittsburgh and the quality and flavor of the beer does make a big difference. I was particularly inspired by the microbrew called Stoudt's Fat Dog, an Imperial Oatmeal Stout. I love the dog on the label. It looks just like my father-in-law's black lab Max, who is quite the emperor of their house. ("Imperial" stout: "emperor"--get it?) I'm usually not a huge stout fan but I enjoyed my sampling--at 8am when I was making the bread, which felt naughty but I only had a taste! It had the more meal than drink appeal of good stout and a sweet molasses flavor that seemed perfect for bread.

I've been using a beer bread recipe I found on the site Zesty Cook. I like that it uses half whole wheat flour and the brown sugar in the dough adds just enough sweetness. The best part is the melted butter (Earth Balance margarine for us) that you pour over the top of the dough before baking. It makes the best tasting crunchy crust! I make my beer loaves in mini loaf pans and that gives you even more crust to savor. The day of my Fat Dog bread experiment I also made a bean salad. Inspired by a mock tuna salad recipe from The Daily Spud, I made some changes according to what was in my kitchen. I swapped cannellini beans for chickpeas, kale for parsley, home dried tomatoes for fresh, and some mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise. Though it deviated greatly from the original intent of mimicking tuna salad, it was a delicious, nutrient dense cross between bean dip and guacamole. And it was great on the beer bread! I think it would work equally well on other hearty breads, pita or just eaten with corn chips.

Here's is a link to the Beer Bread recipe from Zesty Cook. For the Fat Dog stout bread, I replaced a half cup of the all-purpose flour with oat flour, in honor of the oatmeal that went into the stout. My flour measurements were 1 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup oat flour. It made the bread a little softer inside but didn't change the taste much. The real change in taste came from the beer. I plan to keep playing with other brews and maybe other beer bread recipes to see what I like best. I'd love to hear about your adventures in beer bread. What beers have you tried? Any favorite recipes for the beer bread? If you'd like to try it, here's my bastardized (but yummy) bean salad that I think is great on beer bread.

Bean Salad/Dip/Spread
Inspired by Mock Tuna Salad recipe on The Daily Spud who got the recipe idea from The Nomadic Gourmet, there is nothing like a viral recipe.
Makes ~2 cups

2 sundried tomatoes (I used home dried tomatoes from this summer)
2 large leaves of kale
1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans (For canned beans I buy Eden Foods organic beans, they're a Michigan company)
1/4 cup diced onion
1 stalk celery, diced
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 small avocado, mashed
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

-Soak the dried tomatoes in just enough hot water to cover them for 5-10 minutes. Drain and dice.
-Wash the kale, remove and discard the stem and chop the leaves.
-Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a bowl and mash a least half of them.
-Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and/or cayenne pepper to taste.
-Serve on bread or with chips.

Crunchy crusted beer bread made with Fat Dog StoutStoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout, so you can see the great label.

*I have one last site recommendation. If you are looking for a new banana bread recipe try this site. The number of different recipes seems endless and I'm addicted to watching the ingredient cloud on the side bar spin. It's like playing banana bread roulette!


I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes, an event started by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen's Experiments. Visit the new Bookmarked Recipes site for the roundup of other bookmarked and tested recipes.

34 comments:

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

That looks like a fun experiment! I have some bread baking right now, but no beer in sight, at least not tonight ;)

Marianne said...

I've made Zesty's bread as well, using a great porter beer. I totally love the buttery crunchy crust as well. I doubled the recipe, so I still have a loaf in my freezer :D

DJ Karma said...

Beer and bread... the guys here would love that!

Donna-FFW said...

I so love beer bread. I usually (gasp) by the mix from Tastefully simple. But after seeing yours and reading about it, I may have to try my own. It certainly looks WONDERFUL!!! I would love some right about this second with my cup of java!

pigpigscorner said...

This beer bread sounds really good! Love the buttery crunchy crust. I am book marking this! Thanks!

VeggieGirl said...

Lovely!!

Joelen said...

All those crunchy bumps are the best part of beer bread imo! looks delicious!

Daily Spud said...

Love your take on the mock tuna Maggie - great example of a viral recipe! Haven't tried beer bread but I did cook some spuds with stout recently, and had similar questions in my own head about how the flavour of the beer used affects the flavour of the final dish. Anyway, it will show up in a blog post shortly :)

jumbleberryjam said...

That bread looks gorgeous and what a creative spread/dip! Looks so creamy. Must try it soon :-)

jesse said...

Wow, great experiment! That bread has got character!

shellyfish said...

Maggie, I just want to come and hang out with you and eat your delicious food! Alex is a lucky kid, so is your husband!

Tangled Noodle said...

The whole plate looks amazing! I'd say this experiment is a smashing success.

Nicole (Sweetie Pie) said...

That beer bread looks amazing and how fun that you could try all kinds of interesting beers and get unique results. I have some friends who would gobble this up. The next time I have a little dinner party, I'm going to have to make a loaf. Thanks for sharing the results of your experiment!!

luckytastebuds said...

I was lucky enough to stumble across your beautiful bread picture on taste spotting and YAYYY I'm SOO glad I did!! Your recipes sound delicious and look so darn good. I'll definitely come back to be inspired!!

5 Star Foodie said...

What a fun experiment. The beer bread looks just delicious and the sandwich with the bean salad is delightful!

Laura said...

Nice bread but the bean salad looks divine, I'm going to make it for lunch tomorrow. Nice work- Laura

spike. said...

Looks great, I love the beer label too!

Nina Timm said...

Mmmm, I like the crusty look of that bread!!! Not to mention the topping!

Zesty Cook said...

I am so happy you tried my bread. Thanks so much for the shout out! It is a really super simple bread and yummy.

zesty

Cookiemouse said...

I also love baking bread. Fantastic post, and your bread sounds simply delicious.

Heather said...

yum! that beer bread sounds so tasty! and that's the cutest beer bottle i've ever seen! i'm a sucker for a lab face!

Abigail (aka Mamatouille) said...

Oooh, I adore beer bread but I've never had any that looks that good!

kellypea said...

I'm thinking the difference between the Bud Lite and the Stout would be HUGE. But you already know that, right? ;) The bread looks and sounds delicious and I can imagine that toasted with butter and honey for breakfast. YUM!

The Vegan SlaughterHouse said...

wow this looks awesome, your blog always looks so great! thanks for the inspiration!

Navita said...

he he he I love alcohol in my food...lol...beer sounds intriguing..will try it for sure !:)

Butterball said...

The bread looks so hearty; I am thinking toasted topped with butter!
Love the kale in the spread.

TavoLini said...

I love beer bread!! Wow, I really need to try some other kinds of beer. I've always just used high life or bud light ;)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow, this all looks good - the bread and the bean salad on top! I might have to make something like this for lunch today.

I have never made beer bread - but I really should - it sounds delicious! Glad to know the beer that goes into it matters!

James said...

Beer bread. Just the name of it sounds rude. Definitely have to try this as we have quite a few beers brewed locally.

chou said...

I love the puppy!

Eric J. Hoffman said...

That looks great. I LOVE beer bread. Thats good beer too so I am sure its great.

Jude said...

Oatmeal stout sounds so appropriate for beer bread. Even more appropriate is the picture of the dog on the bottle :)

Kris said...

As much bread as I've made, I've never heard of beer bread! Will have to give that a try, it looks delicious, and I love a crunchy crust. The label is awesome, love the picture of the pup!

Rachel Lauren said...

The last batch I made I used Hoegaarden, and it turned out great! Another combo I've used is Blue Moon with orange zest and a little fresh oj added to the dough. It turned out so good! I definitely recommend that combo. My friend requested beer bread for his birthday, so I'm making him a cheddar beer bread and a blue moon w/ orange this weekend.