Okay, check it:
I have been living in an internet cave, so to speak. I’ve seen the shadows on the cave walls being cast by the blinding and mesmerizing light of the major aggregate sites flickering for some time now, and now I’ve decided to step out of the darkness and into the big scary world of blogs and creating my own “content”. (I seriously hate that word, and I promise to try to never use it again. I swear.)
I absolutely love to cook; I love making a huge mess in the kitchen and subsequently cleaning it up. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure I’m a mediocre cook at best. Now that I have the means to do so (kitchen space, non-creepy roommates who hog the kitchen and the storage space, camera, etc) I’ve decided to document my headfirst blindfolded swan dive into the world of cooking by way of a headfirst blindfolded swan dive into the world of blogging. Yeesh.
Okay, on to the main course, so to speak. Again, let it be known:
I LOVE COOKING!
…however, on the opposite end of the spectrum…
I HATE BAKING!
I will get into the details of why this is in future ramblings, but it for some reason seemed fitting that I kick off this blog by making something that took me completely out of my comfort zone of the stovetop and into the dreaded oven.
So, the story: my roommate went to a wedding shower for a mutual friend last weekend. Everyone who attended was given a party favor:
How could I possibly mess this up??
So I got my tools together:
I preheated the oven:
I poured the ingredients into the pot and stirred them up a bit. I noticed that the brown sugar in the jar had clumped up considerably (half the size of my fist), so I tried to separate it from the flour and sugar a bit. Now I was ready for the beer! The most exciting part.
I luckily had two bottles left of one of my favorite craft beers: Loose Cannon Hop^3 IPA by Heavy Seas out of Baltimore.
It’s a good IPA with a nice golden color, a hoppy aroma and earthy flavor, but with an extremely smooth finish. (7.2%, 56 IBUs) I figured that it would be subtle but flavorful in the bread. Except I know nothing about baking. So I was mostly just guessing.
I poured the beer into the pot and mixed it a bit…
Unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture of how much it foamed, because it was pretty cool. It smelled a bit weird and yeast-y, so I stirred some more until the beer was absorbed. I was afraid that it wasn’t enough beer, because the dough quickly got past the “stir just until moist” bit on the directions, but I didn’t mind. I got it to the point that you see here.
At the same time, I had set some butter in a small pot on a burner to melt to be poured on top of the dough once it was in the pan:
Again, I missed the riveting action shot of the butter melting. Sadness.
I “poured” (more like plopped) the dough into the greased pan as instructed and spread it around a bit so that it was slightly more even:
Then I added the melted butter, which was still actually sort of hot; I didn’t really give it a chance to cool off. I was worried that this would have some sort of adverse effect.
Then I put the loaf into the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes, and made myself a pot of tea. Egads.
I checked on the loaf periodically to make sure that it wasn’t burning, as I actually have never used this oven before, but it seemed fine. It’s an electric oven, so I wasn’t terribly worried.
I didn’t have a toothpick to check to see if the bread was done, so I improvised and used a chopstick!
All clean! I took the bread out and let it cool on the wire rack for about 15 minutes before I tried to remove it from the pan. Much to my surprise, it slid out cleanly! The melted butter had slid down the sides of the loaf, forming a harder, darker crust on the bottom. I probably could have let it bake for a few more minutes, but I always get impatient with baked goods.
I guessed that the dark spots on the sides were pockets of brown sugar that I didn’t properly mix into the dough before I added the beer, but it was obviously too late to do anything about it! I was worried that it would affect the overall sweetness of the bread, but honestly, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was supposed to taste like if I had done it “correctly”.
It was still warm and soft when I cut into it:
…but it looked like it had baked all the way through. Now for the fun part!
My first slice that I tried was the end piece. My mother will tell you that I have always loved the end pieces, so I was glad to get first dibs at it, as I was the only one home at the time, and she lives 6 hours away. I still expected her to pop out of the closet or a cabinet or something and steal the end piece from me like she always does, though.
Upon tasting, I discovered that the buttery crust on the bottom was sweet, and the “meat” of the bread had a slightly salty, yeast-y taste, as well as a subtle bitter finish, which I assume is from the beer choice. To me it even tasted a bit nutty? I have no idea. I attempted to write down my initial impressions, and nutty was at the top of the list.
I couldn’t help but think that if I had mixed the dry ingredients a bit more (the brown sugar, specifically) and maybe waited for the butter to cool a bit before pouring it on top of the dough in the pan that it might have come out a little more as it was intended to on the recipe. There is another mason jar with the dry ingredients in it at my disposal, so maybe I’ll experiment a bit more at another time and post the results.
Overall, I was impressed at how delicious it was. I also had my last Loose Cannon to go with the bread slices (even though it was 1:30 in the afternoon and I was home sick…. you know… for science…). The bread definitely had similar qualities to the beer, but they were muted by the spices and seasoning that were in the dry mix that came from the jar.
Conclusion: great success! I ate a few more slices today with my lunch, and it’s safe to say that I didn’t royally screw this one up. But that’s not really indicative of my skills as a baker, seeing as I did not really prepare any of the dry goods other than some light mixing after they came out of the jar into my makeshift mixing bowl.
So that’s it for now. I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I did; a few pictures, some musings, and a little forced self-deprecating humor.
Prep time: 15 mins
Bake time: 48 mins
Eating time: ~45 seconds
Mood: still getting over sharp pain in my ear from the morning
Music playing while preparing: Outkast: Return of the G from the album Aquemini