26 May 2012

Of Bread and Beer

When I was taking my walk on Tuesday or Wednesday night, I overheard a youngish man introducing his infant son to an elderly couple, “Ben.  Benjamin, like Benjamin Franklin.”  Franklin was vegetarian for part of his life, as he says in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklinuntil he wasn’t.  

On to the beer.  What, you say, Q, you’re VGF and you don’t drink—what is this beer business?!  I may not drink but I don’t mind cooking with alcohol, as long as it’s vegan and gluten-free.  Ben Franklin said about beer, “I endeavor’d to convince him [a fellow workman] that the Bodily Strength afforded by Beer could only be in proportion to the Grain or Flour of the Barley dissolved in the Water of which it was made; that there was more Flour in a Penny-worth of Bread, and therefore if he would eat that with a Pint of Water, it would give him more Strength than a Quart of Beer."

I made beer bread to have my beer and eat it, too.  Unlike my brother’s friend Mikey C over on Hop, Collaborate, and Listen, I cannot give you an informed post about beer.  That being said, the taste of Anheuser-Busch’s gluten-free beer, Redbridge, isn’t bad.  It’s fruity, like sparkling cider; I’ve never drunk regular beer before so I can’t compare.  I saved myself a taste when I made beer bread yesterday by adding the water before adding the beer.  My dad had one and said it tasted sweeter than most beer.

I love my dad—when I arrived home, I found out he had already bought me a six-pack of Redbridge since I expressed a wish to have beer-braised onions on the grill at some point this summer.  Stopping at our local Shoprite liquors on the drive home yesterday (didn’t see anyone with whom I went to high school there), I bought alcohol for the first time when I purchased the Redbridge.

I was looking at the beer bread recipe in Laurie Sadowski’s The Allergy-free Cook Bakes Bread, but I noticed online most recipes are pretty standard—3 cups of flour, leavening, sugar in varying amounts, beer, and sometimes melted butter or margarine on top.  Here are my substitutions.

Beer Bread
Modified from Laurie Sadowski, “Hearty Beer Bread,” The Allergy-free Cook Bakes Bread (Summertown: Book Publishing Company, 2011), 52.

3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 cup King Arthur Flour Ancient Grains blend
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar (I used maple sugar)
dash cinnamon (optional)
dash cayenne (optional)

2 tablespoons water
12 ounces VGF beer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a loaf pan (I used a 9*5” pan for a wide, flat loaf).  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Pour in the water and beer and mix until just combined.  Transfer to the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.  Remove from the pan immediately and cool on a rack.

This morning, I had toasted beer bread and topped it with margarine, cinnamon, flaxseeds, and maple syrup, which is an “adult” version of what I used to eat for breakfast when I was six or seven. 

On our family trip to Vermont in 1997, we bought maple syrup (of course), and so I had real maple syrup on twelve-grain toast with butter and cinnamon-sugar for breakfast many times during second grade.  Knowing my mother, that wasn’t actual butter; it was probably margarine.  When the syrup ran out, I sometimes had toast with honey and margarine or “buttery spread.”  Fourteen years later, I nixed the sugar and added flax, soyoghurt, an orange, and wilted chard (from my grandparents’ garden).

For dessert today I made “beach cookies” or magic bars from Chef Chloe’s recipe.

Instead of the graham cracker-margarine crust, I used my standard crunchy piecrust with 1 cup of dates instead of 1/3 cup of raisins and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Just like my grandmother makes, 'cept VGF.

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