Yid.Dish: Beer Bread from the Edge of Irony

By Rhea Yablon Kennedy

Published September 10, 2009.
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To participate in the sustainable food movement today is to live on the edge of irony. Especially if you’re taking part in the movement from a seriously urban setting like, say, Washington, D.C.

What do I mean by this? Just look at this summer. Over the past few months, I’ve taken digital pictures of my hands covered in garden soil, emailed for advice on thinning carrots, Googled rustic local farms, and watched a documentary about real food from a plastic seat in an air conditioned theater.

It’s not just me. Recently, more and more small farms, local food organizations, and gardeners have set up blogs or created Facebook groups.

It seemed fitting that the first cooking experience I chose to “tweet” was a process as old as cooking itself. That is to say, I used a high-tech virtual gizmo known as Twitter to talk about making bread.

Let me walk you through it, oh internet reader, and see if I can’t inspire you to take a break from the keyboard and get your hands doughy.

Twittered Beer Bread

With many thanks to Mia Rut. Makes 2 loaves.

This is a very simple recipe. It’s also nearly fool-proof, I think, because the sugars and yeast in the beer help the dough to rise. Try this with the whole wheat flour now available from Moutoux Orchard and beer from a local brewery. (See more detail on finding the ingredients around D.C. in my Examiner.com version of this recipe).

Once you’ve made the recipe once with the full directions, try using the tweets as shorthand guidance for your next attempts.

Step one In tweet form: Made a sponge of water, yeast, and flour. Waiting for it 2 bubble!

Translation: In a large mixing bowl, combine ½ c. water, 1 packet (about 2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast, and ¼ c. unbleached bread flour. Allow to sit in a warm place until a yeast-inspired bubbles break on the surface.

Step two In tweet form: Kneeded yeast, water, flour, salt, porter. Dough’s rising.

Translation: To the bubbly sponge, add 1 tsp. salt, 2 c. unbleached bread flour, 2 c. whole wheat flour, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and ¾ c. (half a bottle) beer – a porter, IPA, or other dark or hoppy beer.

Mix ingredients until they form a firm dough, adding more flour or beer if necessary, and then turn out onto a floured counter or cutting board. Kneed for a few minutes.

Rinse and dry the bowl, then oil the sides. Form the dough into a smooth ball, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Step three In tweet form: 1st rise done! Divided the soon-to-be beer bread into 2 loaves for a 2nd.

Translation: With a sharp knife, slice dough into two equal parts. Form each into a ball and place on lightly oiled cookie sheet or loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise another hour.

Step four In tweet form: Oven’s ready @ 350. Baking the loaves.

Translation: Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread (remember to remove the plastic wrap!) for 45-55 minutes, or until a knock on the bottom of the loaf produces a hollow sound.

Step five In tweet form: Beer loaf is done! I made bread w/o putting stuff in a machine!

Translation: Beer loaf is done! You made bread without putting stuff in a machine!

Now all that’s left is to allow the bread to cool on a wire rack or perched on top of the loaf pan, then slice it up and eat warm with butter.

That’s all!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled emailing, tweeting, or photo uploading–well, maybe after one more slice.


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