Bread issues ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

15 April 2007

Bread issues

This weekend was difficult. I feel like I had a really stressful and not at all relaxing time. This is not entirely true, but it's coloring my mindset right now.

Eventually I made beer bread, which is to say quick bread that uses beer to rise. This was very easy.

Beer bread

baking powder
herbs/cheese addenda
bottle of beer

First, oil a loaf pan and preheat the oven to 375F.

In a fullsize bread bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, maybe a teaspoon of sugar and HALF a teaspoon of salt. I say HALF A TEASPOON loudly for a reason. I followed the proportions I had, which listed one full teaspoon salt; the bread turned out unutterably salty. You use half a teaspoon.

Ok, so what do you want to add to the bread? I guess you can make it just white, but how boring is that? I grated some parmesan and chopped up a bunch of fresh dill and a little parsley, then added that to my dry mix. You could probably add anything you want. My friend Carrie once made a cheddar and jalapeno bread that was excellent. Olive oil and rosemary would be good too. Olives and rosemary would be very nice. Now I want olive bread. Great.

Add a bottle or can of freshly opened beer to the mix. It can't be a flat beer, or the bread won't rise. I used MGD, for complete tastelessness; you can experiment with big molassesy stouts and things. Mix the stuff up into thick batter with a big flat-paddled spoon or spatula. Just get everything wet. I ended up eventually using my hands to make sure all the dry bits came into sufficient contact with damp bits.

Put your batter into the pan, smooth it out a little, and stick it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes or so. It's done when all bread is done: it sounds hollow when you tap on it. You may want to use the toothpick trick as well, as this bread is heavy and dense and can therefore tend to be a little damp inside even when it sounds done.

Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes; then take it out of the pan and cool some more. Slice it up, put some butter or cream cheese on it, and eat it.

Yeah, so my bread was SALTY. Eating it plain did not work. So I decided to make something to disguise its saltiness. What can do that?

This worked ok:

Braised mushrooms

olive oil
dry vermouth/white wine

Cut up some mushrooms and stick them in a baking dish. Mince a shallot finely and throw that in as well. Give it a couple good splashes of olive oil and vermouth, so there's maybe a centimeter of liquid in the pan. Mix to make sure everything is reasonably wet, then stick in the oven, now reduced to 350F. Let it cook for 15 minutes or so, then check and stir. The mushrooms will have reduced in volume quite a bit. Get them all under the braising liquid and cook for five or so minutes longer, until you decide they're done.

Then make
Instant savory bread pudding.

Rip up a piece or two of your ultra-salty bread and stick it in a bowl. When the mushrooms are done, pour them and their juices directly over the bread. Add some chopped parsley or something if you feel like it. Eat it, sopping up all the juice with the bits of bread.

I really, really wanted lots of red wine with this, but was not willing to go out and get it after a gargantuan morning shopping expedition.

Another thing you could do for bread pudding vegetables:

Big tomato braise

onion or garlic
olive oil
red wine

This is really only viable in summer, when there are good tomatoes, but I guess you can improv with decent canned whole ones too. Get some good tomatoes, peel them (or don't if you are lazy), and chop them into big chunks. Throw them in a baking dish with either roughly chopped onion or whole smashed cloves of garlic. Add olive oil and spicy red wine for braising liquid. The dry vermouth would work too, if you have no wine. You might want some basil or thyme or something in here too. Cook like the mushrooms, adjusting time for size of tomatoes et al; pour results over bread; eat.