Tag Archives: bread

Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix

This whole wheat beer bread is one of the best recipes I’ve discovered in a long time.  I happened across it when I was brainstorming ideas for a food swap on Monday.  I needed something shelf-stable and inexpensive to take to the swap, and this simple, savory quick bread fit the bill. I stayed true to BLChrisman’s simple, original recipe and packed the dry ingredients into white paper bags for the swap.  The resulting beer bread “mix” made for a popular, easy swap item. I think it was popular because the recipe will be easy for the foodies in attendance to adapt according to their tastes. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly. Here’s the basic mix recipe:

Whole Wheat Beer Bread Mix
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour (I used Richardson Farms‘)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons salt
4.5 teaspoons baking powder

Preparation instructions: Combine dry ingredients with a 12 oz. bottle or can of beer. Put dough into a buttered loaf pan and pour 4 tablespoons of melted butter or vegan margarine over the dough and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

Somehow I managed to attend the food swap, take my camera and forget to take pictures of my beer bread mix. So you’ll have to use your imagination here, and trust me that the finished products looked really cute.  I found white paper bags similar to the one pictured below at All In One Bake Shop here in Austin for $.35 each.

I put one recipe of the basic mix into each white gusseted bag and labeled it with this sticker:

For an extra cute touch, I used a green patterned scrapbook paper as the background stroke on the packages. For ease of production, I printed the label stickers on Avery name tags using my home inkjet printer. Easy peasy!

In the past week I’ve experimented a lot with this recipe and two variations I have made really stand out above the rest: a broccoli cheddar loaf and a vegan rosemary garlic bread.  For the broccoli cheddar version, I added one cup of minced broccoli, a clove of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese to the basic recipe, then I topped it with salted butter and 1 tablespoon of cheddar cheese. The texture of the bread was richer than the original recipe, and the flavor of the broccoli came through without being overpowering.

The vegan garlic rosemary beer bread came about after the food swap.  I got a bunch of rosemary and other herbs from Sarah of texpatsabroad, and on a whim I added a tablespoon of her minced rosemary and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the bread dough. I used Earth Balance instead of butter to top the dough and baked for 45 minutes. It was fantastic and crusty! I’m planning to make that again for Super Bowl Sunday.

Fellow food swappers, I hope you enjoy making your own versions of this beer bread! Please let me know what beers you cook with and whether you come up with any variations of your own.

Headed to your own food swap, or just looking to package up some hostess gifts? Here is the Microsoft Word document for the labels I designed for the beer bread packages, Avery name tag template 5395.


Austin Beer Week: Texas Chili Pie

I made this chili pie in support of the Rangers’ first ever World Series appearance and so far it is working! (We’re winning game one of the series as I type.)  The idea for this recipe came from the concession food I liked to eat at Rangers games when I was a kid: frito pie!  This healthier, non-processed version combines a spicy  chili with hearty jalapeno cheddar corn bread.  Pure Texan comfort food!

If tomatoes and fresh beans were in season, I probably would have added them to the chili.  However, this version will satisfy the most picky Texas Chili enthusiasts since it has neither.  In celebration of Austin Beer Week, I used a whole bottle of Independence Brewing Company’s Austin Amber Ale in the chili, plus a half cup in the cornbread topper. The cornbread also features roasted corn and jalapeno peppers plus local cheddar cheese for added flavor and  texture.  You could skip those ingredients in a pinch, but the pie wouldn’t be nearly as rich and tasty!  I adapted the cornbread recipe from The Beer Wench‘s “Some Like it Hot” cornbread.  If you’re interested in gourmet brew, check out her website, it’s very cool.

One last thing: both the chili and the cornbread work as stand-alone recipes.  However, I think the presentation of the pie is really special.  Just like game day food should be! I hope you enjoy this easy and tasty Texas Chili Pie as much as we did, and let’s go Rangers!!

Texas Chili Pie (serves 6)

1 lb. ground venison, beef, or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bottle Austin Amber Ale
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 ear sweet corn
1 fresh jalapeno pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour (n.b. I tried this with whole wheat and it wasn’t good)
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Austin Amber Ale
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten

In a heavy bottomed pan, brown meat over medium heat, adding a little oil if it’s very lean, stirring occasionally. While meat is browning, chop onions, garlic, peppers, and cilantro and add to pan. Stir the meat mixture and break up any large clumps of meat. Once onions are translucent and meat is broken up, pour in the beer and stir.  Add paprika, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Allow chili to stew, uncovered, for about half an hour while you prepare the cornbread topping.

For the cornbread: First, cut corn off the cob and mince jalapeno pepper.  Roast corn and pepper in a skillet over high heat with a little olive oil until some kernels of corn are brown.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, beer, and egg and stir until just combined. (Lumps are okay.)  Finally, fold in shredded cheese, corn, and peppers.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Back to the chili: stir in cornmeal one tablespoon at a time until chili thickens to desired consistency.  After two tablespoons of cornmeal, mine was as thick as juicy taco meat, just how I like it!  Remove chili from heat and carefully pour it into a 1.5 quart casserole dish.  Gently pour cornbread batter on top of the chili.  Using potholders, put the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Garnish chili pie with fresh sliced jalapenos, diced onions, sour cream and cilantro.  Cheer for the Rangers!!

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Rosemary Apple Braid

I made this easy apple danish for a friend’s baby shower at the office today.  It’s a great choice for special occasions because the pretty presentation and sophisticated rosemary apple filling will make you seem like a gourmet chef!  Local box favorites Golden Apples from Apple Country Orchards and Rosemary from Pure Luck Farms are the rock stars of this recipe.

Although the braid looks tricky, it’s actually one of the easiest pastry shapes to master. This recipe is adapted from Dorothea Ladd’s Easy Apple Danish on Allrecipes.com.  I used a food processor and chose the braid shape to save time; My grandmother might argue that this simplified pastry dough is not a true danish since it’s not laminated, but it passes  my family’s taste test for sure.

Rosemary Apple Dutch Braid

1 .25 ounce packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees)
2 eggs, beaten
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, beaten, set aside

3 cups peeled, chopped apples
3/4 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon apple juice

Method: In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water.  In a food processor, cut together cold butter, flour and sugar. For most food processors, you will need to do this in two batches.  (If you don’t have a food processor, a pastry cutter or two forks will do the job.) Process flour and butter until mixture resembles crumbly, damp sand. Move flour and butter to a large bowl and add sugar. Stir in the yeast mixture, warm milk, and beaten eggs by hand. Knead the dough in the bowl with a spatula until it is elastic and well combined, about 3 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

While dough rests, prepare the filling.  Combine the apples, rosemary, sugar, melted butter, and pecan pieces; set aside.

Cover two 15-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat  and set near your workstation. Punch down dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half, set one half aside.  Roll dough into an 15 by 12 inch rectangle.  Transfer dough to prepared cookie sheet by gently rolling dough onto the rolling pin, moving to cookie sheet and gently unrolling onto the parchment paper.

Place half of filling longways along the middle of the dough, to within a half inch of either end.  Use scissors to cut dough into one inch strips along either side of filling, then fold alternating strips towards the middle of the loaf to create a braid effect.  Repeat the roll/tranfer/fill/braid process with the other piece of dough.  Set both braids aside to rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the braids with egg wash.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow braid to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving entire loaf and parchment paper to a wire rack to complete cooling.  Prepare glaze by sifting powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in milk and apple juice, and drizzle glaze over top of cooling pastries.  Each loaf yields about 15 slices.

*This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Homemade Hamburger Buns

When I was shopping for tailgate ingredients I noticed how expensive organic hamburger buns are.   A package of six, locally made whole wheat organic buns at the market costs about $6.  Although the rolls looked delicious, I put them right back on the shelf.   Who can spend $6 on bread when you’ve gotta buy beer, too?*

I knew I could make some buns at home for much cheaper.  I had all the basic dough ingredients on hand in my pantry, plus some leftover sweet potatoes and rosemary from my pesto roll party earlier this week.  The bun recipe I created is a spin-off from my pesto roll dough, using whole wheat flour and honey this time to get a similar taste and texture to the store-bought hamburger buns. I used a handy recipe cost calculator to figure out that my homemade buns cost $5.21 cents, or $.43 per bun.  Cheap and delicious!  Here’s a picture of a finished bun in action:

In the background is the “Oklahoma Suks” beer I splurged on instead of the other hamburger buns.  It’s brewed every year right here in Austin by Independence Brewing Co., one of my favorite local vendors.

Hook ’em Hamburger Buns
2 small sweet potatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
1 cup potato cooking water, reserved
1 cup milk at room temperature
1 Tbs. honey
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 egg
4 cups whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup for rolling and shaping dough

Chop sweet potatoes into sixths and boil unpeeled potato chunks with rosemary sprigs in water for about 20 minutes.  Once potatoes are tender, remove them from water with a slotted spoon.  Reserve 1 cup potato water & the rosemary.  Allow potatoes to cool enough to handle, then remove skin.  Puree potatoes and rosemary needles in a food processor, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add reserved water, milk, honey, lightly beaten egg, and melted butter to potato puree and stir to blend.  (Mixture should be between 100-120 degrees.)  Add yeast and allow it to proof.  Add 4 cups of whole wheat flour, stirring dough to incorporate.

Continue stirring dough for several minutes until it is fully formed and elastic.  It may be soft and a little sticky– that is okay.  Cover bowl with a damp dish towel and set in a warm place to rise for half an hour.

Once dough has doubled in volume, turn it onto a floured surface.  Knead dough for 5-10 minutes, incorporating as little flour as possible, until it is firm and holds its shape.  Use a pastry scraper to divide dough in half, set one half aside for later.  Roll remaining dough into a circle about 1 inch thick and divide into six pieces. Shape each piece into a roll using floured hands.  Tip: the technique for shaping roll dough is quite different from, say, cookie dough or clay.  Instead of rolling the dough ball between your hands, cup the dough ball firmly in one hand and use the fingertips of the other hand to fold under the edges of the dough until the top surface of the roll is smooth.

Repeat the rolling/shaping procedure until you have formed 12 rolls. Each roll should be about the size of a tennis ball. Place dough balls on a buttered cookie sheet about two inches apart.  Brush roll tops with butter and sprinkle with sea salt and crushed rosemary.  Cover with a damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Bake rolls 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Brush again with butter after you remove from the oven, move to a wire rack to cool.

*I know that not all hamburger buns cost $1 each. A package of 8, nationally distributed buns made with high fructose corn syrup costs just $1.50.  This makes me angry since I know that my tax dollars subsidize the cheap corn, wheat, and GM soy in those rolls.  When my niece is an adult her tax dollars will continue to pay for the long-term environmental and human health costs of those crappy hamburger buns.

Mini Rosemary Pesto Rolls

Rami and I are both in horrible moods since Texas lost to UCLA this afternoon.  We’re drowning our sorrows in rosemary, butter, and bread with these mini pesto rolls I created.

This is the recipe I’ve been tinkering with all week in preparation for the potluck at Greenling’s Best of Austin Bash next Thursday.  It meets the main four requirements for any potluck recipe:

  1. It tastes good.
  2. It’s pretty to look at.
  3. The recipe is cheap and makes a lot.
  4. It’s easy to make ahead of time, freeze and reheat.

Plus, since this is a Greenling potluck, the recipe had to use a lot of local ingredients.  These rolls use sweet potatoes from Naegelin Farms, rosemary and parsley from Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, garlic from Green Gate Farms, and Parmesan from Brazos Valley Cheese.  I am really excited to meet up with some of these farmers on Thursday so I can thank them for helping me to create this delicious recipe!

These rolls are time consuming, but worth it.  The sweet potato in the dough makes the bread very moist and tender.  The rosemary pesto, while too strong for most of my pasta recipes, holds up beautifully in the oven.  I think I’ll definitely be making these for Thanksgiving this year– but earlier in the week than the turkey since they’re so labor intensive.

Rosemary Pesto Rolls (makes about 90 mini rolls or 36 full sized rolls)
Roll Dough:
2 sweet potatoes
1 cup potato cooking water, reserved
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
5-7 cups all purpose flour
Pesto filling:
1/3 cup rosemary needles
1 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter

Preparation: Wash and chop sweet potatoes.  Boil unpeeled potato chunks with sprigs of rosemary until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto filling.  Remove the rosemary needles from the woody stem. 

Combine 1/3 cup rosemary needles with the remainder of the pesto ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until ingredients are processed into a smooth paste.  Scoop out pesto filling and set aside for later use. (You’ll have just over a cup of pesto.)  Clean out the food processor bowl, we’ll use it in the dough prep!

Now, back to the potatoes.  Once they are tender, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rosemary sprigs from the water.  Peel the needles off the woody stem, and mince with a knife.  Put about 1 tbs. of minced rosemary in the food processor bowl.  Remove peel from cooked potatoes and add those to the food processor, too.  Reserve 1 cup of the hot potato water.  Puree the potatoes and rosemary in the food processor.

You should have 1 to 1.5 cups of potato puree.  Add one cup reserved potato water and milk and puree.  The resulting liquid should still be very warm from cooking, about 110 degrees. (Use a thermometer to measure if you’re anal retentive like me.)

Transfer liquid to a large mixing bowl and add yeast and sugar.  Let yeast proof, then add melted butter and beaten egg.  If the liquid is slightly viscous and bubbly, you’re doing it right!

Add about 5 cups of flour to the mixture, stirring constantly. Stir and stir and stir until the dough becomes elastic and begins to pull away from the edges of the bowl.  If it is very humid outside, you may need an additional 1/2 cup or cup of flour for the dough ball to solidify.  Continue stirring until dough loses its sheen and can be removed easily from the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, until dough volume is nearly doubled.

Punch down dough and knead on a floured surface with floured hands.  Once dough holds shape reasonably well, use a pastry cutter to divide into four even pieces.

Now the fun begins!  Set aside the extra dough and work with one piece at a time.  On the floured surface, roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick and 6-7 inches wide and 18-22 inches long.

Spread 1/4 cup pesto filling on the dough with a spatula. Roll up the dough longways, using the pastry scraper to support the dough if necessary to keep from ripping. The tube of dough should be about the size of a broom handle.

Use un-waxed, unflavored dental floss to cut the roll into one-inch sections. Place the rolls about 1/4 inch apart in a buttered glass baking dish. Brush the tops of the rolls with butter.

Repeat this process three more times with the remaining dough and pesto.  I used one 9×13 pan, one pie pan, and two 7×11 pans to hold all the mini rolls.  Once all the rolls are assembled, cover pans with damp towels and place in a warm spot to rise.  Let sit for about an hour, or until rolls have doubled in size.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until rolls are lightly brown.  Eat these right out of the oven, or freeze them for later service. They’re delicious either way!