125 Yard Cheddar Beer Bread
I cook a lot. I cook because I like to eat well, and this seems to be the best way to achieve that. I also cook because I like to make other people happy and most people like to eat. The third reason I cook, is that cooking is hands on, mindful and creative. I love the act of chopping veggies, smashing a garlic clove, and creating a meal. While I have a lot of recipe books left over from my pre internet world, I try not to follow recipes because cooking is one area of my life where I don’t have to follow the rules. Generally I follow rules - things like wearing a seatbelt, a bike helmet and not breaking the speed limit. I also attempt to be civilized, most of the time, which is following a sort of social rule. So unless I am baking cakes- where switching baking soda for baking powder leads to an awful cake - I go with the flow and follow my heart.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Highland Pacific Golf Course for a Lululemon Ambassador get together. It was a chance to catch up with other lemons, and for for those of us who don’t play golf, Warren Reeves, (AKA Golf Pro) taught us how to grip, chip, and drive a ball. The goal of the evening was three fold in my view: rookies were invited to try to ping the power tower 125 yards across the driving range because the lake was too far away, to laugh a lot, and to eat.
I brought home made beer bread. It was warm and fresh and it was a hit so here is the recipe. I made it up, but because I wasn’t sure if I should add all beer or beer and water. I googled and found inspiration for the bread on the BBC Food page, in a recipe by the Hairy Bikers, “two northern blokes with a passion for cooking and food.” Their recipe had too many ingredients for me, so here’s my super simple:
125 Yard Cheddar Beer Bread Recipe
1 packet instant yeast
A can Phillips Blue Buck beer, at room temperature (please note, Phillips has paid me no money for the writing of this article, I just happened to have Blue Buck in the fridge that day. In the future I may try a Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. The stronger the beer the stronger the flavour, but I don’t recommend using a lager.)
2 cups plain flour + more for kneading and adding
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 cup grated strong cheddar
Put the flours, salt, and instant yeast into a large bowl and mix together. Add the beer and the cheese and with a large wooden spoon, mix it all together until it is a good mass. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for a few moments, adding more flour if it’s sticky, until it’s a smooth lump of dough. Clean out the dough bowl, oil it with a bit of olive oil, and put the dough back in the bowl, rolling it around to cover with a light coat of oil. Cover it with a cloth, put it somewhere warm and out of reach of the dog, and go for a run, a ride or vacuum the house for an hour or 2.
Come back and punch down the dough, which should have doubled in size by now. Knead it again and shape it into a big loaf, or 2 smaller loaves or you can even braid it! Dough is fun; unlike cake batter you can’t really wreck it. Put the loaves on a baking sheet and let sit while the oven heats up to 350F.
Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. You can also tap on the bottom of the loaf, and it if sounds hollow, it’s probably done.
Slice the bread and serve it to your friends.
Common sense and a sense of humour.