Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Beer-Batter Bread

I read tarot cards.

Odd way to start off a post about bread, I know, but hang in there with me a second. Anyway, I read tarot cards, but I only read for friends. I can't read for myself and I can't read for pay; it's really something I do to help people I care about. And from what I've been told, it does exactly that.

So, if you are my friend, and you need guidance or help on something, you call me up and ask for a reading. And with that reading usually comes a big helping of comfort food, like this cheddar bread. (See? Told you I'd get there.)

I'm actually not sure if it's the food or the readings that keep people coming back, but it makes my friends happy, and that's what matters.

This is a super easy bread; absolutely no kneading is involved. You just mix everything together, pour over melted butter, and bake. The beer is what gives it both its lift and its yeasty flavor. I like to serve this with my Guinness Beef Stew.

Oh, and slight warning: You know how you always like to taste the dough when you're baking, cause the dough's the best part?

Do not do that with this bread.

For serious. Ugh.

But the bread's good!

Cheddar Cheese Beer-Batter Bread

8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese (shred 4 ounces and cut the rest into small cubes)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 12-ounce can of American-style beer (like Bud)
4 tablespoons melted butter

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

Combine all cheese, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in beer and mix until well combined. Pour into loaf pan and spread evenly. Drizzle melted butter evenly on top of batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. (You may want to check it in a couple of places, in case you hit a pocket of cheese.) Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

(This is awesome toasted for breakfast the next day.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TWD: Toasted-Coconut Tart

I've been sick.

I say this not to illicit "poor you" comments (though I'll take pity where I can find it), but to explain why I've suddenly fallen off the face of the earth. Sick, as in...can't think of anything else and spending all my time either at the doctor's or asleep sick. Sick as in, on medical leave sick.


Not too sick to bake, of course. Don't let's be silly. I've actually got several blog posts queued up and just need to sit down and do them: a nice cheddar cheese bread, a rosemary focaccia sprinkled with sea salt and awesomeness, and at least one Tuesdays with Dorie rewind (a pound cake).

But for now, let's stick with today's awesome, awesome Tuesdays with Dorie recipe: Toasted-Coconut Tart.

Holy mother of coconuts, this thing is good. And easy! This was my first ever tart, and I had no issues with it at all.

I have to admit, I actually usually despise recipes that require a food processor, and avoid them as a matter of course. It's getting harder and harder to find modern recipes for tart or pastry dough that aren't built on the food processor, though; even America's Test Kitchen uses it. So, I grumbled alot, but I dug out my old Black & Decker, and guess what? It was so easy. Ridiculously easy.

My crust was a little thicker than it is really supposed to be, because I got nervous that I'd get it too thin. But it turned out great: nice and buttery and just golden brown. The custard wasn't at all hard, even though I let the milk boil all over the stove. I'll show you my 1920s Wedgewood stove one day; it's awesome.

Anyhoo, great dessert. It does take a little time, what with the chilling of various parts, but it really isn't hard. And it looks very impressive, so overall: win.

Now, I just have a huge tart in the house, and no one to share it with. Of course, I am sick, so eating an entire coconut tart by myself is completely allowed. Right?

Want the recipe? Go to Beryl's site.