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Winter Beer Bread

Winter can be a time for cocooning and hearth-huddling, at least for me. I think it’s the combination of frigid temperatures outside combined with the dawn of a new year. It is a season ripe for introspection and solo activities, preferably someplace warm. Which is why it’s the perfect time of year for baking.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to try out and shoot a beer bread recipe for Edible Nashville. I have loads of experience with quick breads, but my loaf bread skills are still a bit underdeveloped. Undaunted, I told myself a new year is for trying new things, so I forged ahead.

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This beer bread recipe comes from Tennessee Brew Works, and is a lot simpler than you might think. The most difficult part is allowing yourself time to wait at the different dough-proofing stages. But hey, while you wait, you can pour yourself a glass of Southern Wit – the star ingredient for the bread. Southern Wit is a refreshing Belgium White Ale with pear and honey notes. Yum.

But even if this had been a difficult recipe, I would still be extolling its virtues here because – ohhhh my – it is some of the most delicious bready goodness I’ve ever had! And don’t get me started on its aromatic properties (your house will smell like a gourmet bakery). But that taste – I tell you it somehow tastes better when you make it yourself.

It’s a new year. Go for it! Here’s the original recipe over at Edible Nashville.

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Southern Wit Beer Bread

Ingredients (makes 1 large loaf or 2 mini loaves)

Starter

  • 1 c. Southern Wit (warm), or other Belgium beer
  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1½ t. active dry yeast
Dough
  • 1¼ c. warm Southern Wit (warm), or other Belgium beer
  • 4 c. bread flour
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 T. butter (melted)
  • 1 T. salt

Directions

  1. Make starter by combining beer. flour and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand in a warm place (above the oven is usually a good choice) until mixture is foamy and doubled (about 20 minutes).
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix in a stand mixer until combined. Using dough hook, beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Pour a little oil over the dough and place in the warm area to proof until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes. Then, punch dough down and knead about 5 minutes.
  3. Shape the dough into a narrow baguette shape and place on a baking sheet (or place in a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan). Brush with a little melted butter and let rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake about 40 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch. Place on a cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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Your dough should look a little something like this ^ for your first kneading. If it’s too wet, add in a little more flour.

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In the last step before baking, hand roll your dough into a baguette shape like I did, or you can place the dough into a loaf pan.

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Did I mention it smells fantastic?

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Your final loaf pairs well with Gouda, pecans, pears and of course, beer. It’s great for mid-winter entertaining. But just as great as a simple, warm snack for cocooning on your own.

Jen

fruit and cinnamon sticks

Share a Glass of Autumn’s Perfect Cocktail

As the days grow short and a chill settles into the air, I find myself drawn toward food and drink that share an essence with Autumn. Foods that are simple, golden-hued, and perhaps, have a bit of bite – just like the crisp morning wind.

As Thanksgiving approached, I wanted to find an encapsulation of the season that would be the perfect accompaniment to all those harvest dishes. In other words, I was on a quest to find the perfect Fall cocktail. To help me in my journey was my talented friend and fellow blogger from Five Dishes. Together, we researched the classics (mulled wine, hot toddies), the overdone (sorry, pumpkin spice anything), and finally found a drink that seemed completely fresh, but traditional enough to play well with the requisite turkey and cranberry sauce (or truly, whatever Fall’s bounty graces your table this year.)

Spices and Fruit

Our chosen cocktail is earthy, fragrant and has a color like a sugar maple in fall. And yes, it has a lovely, subtle bite thanks to the spiced rum. But the best part of all? It was unbelievably easy to make.

Apple rum punch ingredients

Autumn Punch

Ingredients (makes 2 cocktails)

  • 2½ oz spiced rum (we used Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum)
  • 4 oz fresh unfiltered apple juice
  • 2 big pinches of Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 long threads of lemon peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bottle of quality hard Pear Cider (apple cider would pair well, too)

Autumn apple rum punch making

Directions

In a shaker half-filled with ice-cubes, combine the rum, apple juice, and Chinese 5 spice.  Shake well and pour in a glass. Top with the pear cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick and twist of lemon peel.

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The recipe is for two, so you can make sure to enjoy with a friend. I can’t think of a better way to toast this holiday of sharing. Cheers!