I’ve heard people say that you’re not supposed to talk about blog hiatuses, but come on, I like elephants. For the most part, I was just baking without blogging about it. (I’m quite good at biscuits now.)
I realized that it’s kind of refreshing to act like a normal person in the kitchen, as in NOT take photos of everything and awkwardly attempt to style food. Style food! I can’t even accessorize myself half of the time. And the thing is, I had the time to do this stuff because I don’t have a regular 9-5 or a family to feed, and my cat is pretty self-sufficient. Maybe I just got used to not blogging?
For the most part, that timeframe did coincide with a new experience that ended up not going so well. All I have to say is that if something is causing you to be unhappy, please do yourself a favor and figure out how to make things better, which sometimes means removing yourself from that situation. It won’t be easy, but will be worth it. And then get back to blogging. </life advice> Anyway, that was kind of draining and might have had something to do with the tumbleweeds.
On a more positive note, I was in New Zealand (again!) for the better part of April visiting my dear friends Julie and Andrew. Julie and I Baked For Fun! twice, and one of the final products was beer bread. I had made a loaf in January, and it was so simple and tasty that I wanted to try making it with the alcoholic ginger beer that they have down under. (We need this stuff in the US, brewer folks.) The first loaf I made wasn’t super beery, so I wasn’t sure how well the ginger would come through, but it did and was delicious!
With the end of Hatch chile season drawing near*, I thought it would be nice to spice up this bread a bit, and why not complete the trifecta with cheese? I mean, there is just no way that this couldn’t be a win.
*Confession: I totally baked this bread and wrote the bulk of this post three weeks ago, and so Hatch season might be over now. Feel free to use whatever kind of pepper you want.
Cheddar Hatch Beer Bread
adapted from food.com
The author of the original recipe is very particular about how to handle the flour in order to avoid baking a brick. (I did spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then swept off the excess, but that is supposedly the most correct way when not using a scale.) As with any quick bread, you really just don’t want to over-mix the batter. Let there be lumps.
Like with any quick bread, this is more for snacking than for sandwiches. Also, beer muffins? Go for it. Just bake for less time and such.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Hatch chile, roasted* and diced (I might use two next time)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 12-ounce beer (I went with the ol’ Shiner Bock)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* I did this with some tongs over the flame of a gas burner. Char that sucker, then scrape off the black stuff with the side of a fork when the chile is cool.
Preheat oven to 375F (or 350F if your oven runs hot like mine).
Grease a loaf pan with some of the butter that you’ll be using later.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the chile and cheese. Add the beer and half (1/4 cup) of the melted butter. Gently fold everything together until just incorporated, but still lumpy.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pushing it into the corners as needed. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of butter on top.
The recipe says to bake for 1 hour at 375F until the top is golden brown, but mine was ready in 45 minutes at 350F. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. You can totally slice it while still warm, which I would recommend because what’s better than freshly baked bread?
This bread ages better than the not-quick kind that’s made with yeast. The crusty part does soften up by the next day, but the overall flavor is better, so it works out. Just store it in an airtight container or wrap it up. Toasting is highly suggested!
Fact: I hadn’t taken any photos with my “real camera” (merely a point-and-shoot) since April, so that was probably the most challenging aspect of this post. Fading daylight resulted in the classy porch shot above.