Saturday, April 13, 2013

Double-Rising Sweet Cider Bread: A Story About One Very Forgiving Recipe

We’ve all heard what to do when life gives us lemons, but what about when life gives us some very dubious hard cider? This is the story of how I asked a well-tried beer bread recipe to endure a few modifications—and it came through for me like a champ.

The afternoon wasn’t getting any less rainy, and the thin, oversweetened Michelob Cider in the fridge wasn’t magically going to become tasty on its own, so it was time to salvage it with a simple backing project.

Here’s how my in-laws make beer bread. First pour a bottle of room temperature beer into bowl with 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 of a cup of granulated sugar, and a tablespoon each of baking powder and salt. Stir gently until it becomes a thick batter with no powder remaining. Preheat a loaf pan with about an ounce of butter in the bottom. Pour the dough into this hot loaf pan. This gives off the most satisfying sizzle when you spoon the dough into the hot buttered pan Then put a few pad of butter onto the top of the dough before closing the oven door. This lovely stuff gets baked at 375 for about 45 minutes.

Using the cider would be modification #1. I began by letting the guilty cider sit and sweat, reaching room temperature, while I gathered ingredients. As luck would have it, my loaf pan was missing (I like to think it’s partying somewhere with several single socks).  This led to modification #2: I used a brownie pan instead, which means a shorter baking time. The rain on my kitchen window reminded me that humidity can be the nemesis of rising bread, so I added a pinch more baking powder—modification #3. My dough then grew much thicker than cake batter but looser than typical bread dough. Into the oven it went, and a light-colored, cake-like bread emerged 35 minutes later.

Once it cooled, I cut it into generous portions. My husband and I ate it with sharp cheddar cheese, and he raved over the apple-y taste and surprisingly fluffy texture. Only then did I realize that I’d added that extra baking powder to what was already self-rising flour! Oops. Modification #4. My in-laws’ beer bread recipe is forgiving as my oft-dropped but always functional cell phone. My doubly-rising sweet cider bread was delicious. It would make a perfect substitution for coffee cake, with its soft crumbly texture and its breakfast-ready sweetness.