I know it isn’t Friday and you’ve become accustomed to a certain standard of living. You expect to close off the work week by reading about my latest adventure and laughing at my cleverness and wit, and when you don’t see my post, you are shocked at how distraught you feel. You obsessively refresh the page all day and wonder if you did something to make me mad. Or so I like to imagine. It’s been a hectic week, but I sincerely apologize for scaring you. There, there…I’m here now. It’ll all be fine.
In the world of cooking and baking, I feel like Bread is its own little closed off specialty clique full of temperamental ingredients that you need to manage exactly right or else you end up 2 hours and nothing to show for it. I don’t like cooking in steps that require me to wait – mix, wait, rise, return, mix, wait, rise, return…it’s never ending and feels like too much work for one loaf of bread. But a girl should have a bread recipe in her arsenal for carb emergencies, shouldn’t she?
So my first attempt was to make an Herbes de Provence / Sea Salt Bread. I used a regular white bread recipe and thought “hmm…let me mix it up a bit” and added herbes de provence & pink Hawaiian sea salt. Then I thought to myself “hmm! let me form this bread into a cool shape because I’m crazy that way”. This led to my “lets make tons of different shapes” idea and my “heart shaped bread! lets call it…BREAD-ZELS!” idea. The dough hook on the Kitchenaid worked wonderfully and the dough felt soft and perfect and dough-y.
But then it didn’t rise. After an hour, the poor dough just lay in the bowl, greased and flat. But I thought that maybe it was a late blooming bread (that’s a thing, right?) and still kneaded it a bit, and shaped it into hearts, knots, mini breadsticks, and traditional rolls. It still didn’t rise after the other hour that I left it but I still held out hope. I baked it nonetheless and…(drumroll please!!)…it sucked. I’d give myself an A for effort but F for execution. Actually that’s a good word. I executed my bread.
Suffice it to say I considered that maybe the cool bread crew didn’t want me as member. But I wanted to participate in Angie’s FF Challenge and I thought that if I didn’t try baking with yeast now, it would be a very very long time before I tried it again. Yeast has freaked me out over the years. Living organisms in a packet?! I could just imagine looking at it under a microscope and seeing little yeast-like creatures walking around in their yeasty suburbs, one watering plants, one getting their mail, one delivering newspapers… I admit I’m still a little apprehensive about it. After reading a bit more, I learned that there are also different types of yeast – brewers yeast, cake yeast, etc. It’s a whole other universe out there people!
This time I found the simplest and coolest bread recipe I could find – Beer bread. I decided to use a Beer Bread Recipe I found at About.com that was filed in a category called “Bread Making 101”. Being the occasional “use up what I have” and the “how can I make this better although I haven’t even tried it yet” kinda cook, I decided to modify it a bit and make a Mascarpone Beer Bread with Rosemary & Sea Salt. Yup. sounds weird right? I also decided to adapt the recipe to be used with the dough hook on my Kitchenaid because I don’t know the right way to knead and also kneading sucks.
I am happy to report that the 2nd time was the charm! I literally cheered when I lifted the towel and saw that the dough rose. I cheered again when I saw that the dough was rising in my cake pan. Also, I told you I’d find a use for my tub of mascarpone! I still have a lot left though…
My loaf pan is in the shop. Literally. Because I haven’t bought one yet.
1 package active dry Yeast (I used fermipan) 1/4 cup warm Water (not boiling) 1 cup Beer, room temperature (I used Banks Beer, but any beer should be fine) 1 tbsp Mascarpone Cheese 1 tbsp Sugar 1 1/2 tsp Salt 3 cups Flour
1/2 – 3/4 tsp dried Rosemary
Pinch of Sea Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper
Preparation: In small bowl, mix water and yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved. In mixing bowl, add the beer, mascarpone, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and stir until mascarpone is broken up and relatively consistent throughout mixture. Add in 2-1/2 cups flour. Fit mixer with dough hook attachment and mix on speed 2 for approximately 2 minutes. Add remaining half cup of flour and mix for another minute or two. The mixture will be very sticky. You can add up to 1/4 cup more flour for easier handling.
Put dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn dough so that the top is greased. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 60 minutes, or until double in size. Punch down dough with your fist. Move dough to a floured board and knead for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Form dough into 1 loaf, or simply place into a buttered bread pan or pan of your choice. Sprinkle rosemary, sea salt & black pepper on top of dough. Do not knead in. Cover and let rise until double in size, about 30 minutes. Score dough by cutting three slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Place in in oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool on a rack or dishtowel.
All in all, the bread came out pretty great. The outside was crispy and a little bit oily (in a good way) and inside was airy, soft and moist. Rabin and I both had two slices as soon as it came out of the oven (it works with and without a swipe of butter – we tested both to ensure diner satisfaction) and then lay down for the rest of the night because who else is dumb enough to eat a snack right after dinner?
So there it is. Beer bread. I’m inspired enough to try different types of bread, but still wary of yeast . Angie, is there an award for Most Improved? Because I seriously think I’m a contender.
I’d just also like to say hi to all of my new followers (hi!!) and thank my older followers (thank you!!) for sticking with me. I’ve hit over 100 followers in a few short months and I’m thrilled that you all find me interesting enough to keep following my kitchen adventures. You guys are awesome!