Saturday, June 27, 2009

Strawberry Bread and Butter

Strawberry bread and butter

It's late Spring, and here in the Pacific Northwest that means it's Strawberry Season! I absolutely love fresh strawberries. I think it's my favorite thing about the season.

I bought, well, way too many strawberries from a local farm. This strawberry bread and butter is a lovely manifestation of that wonderful excess.

Strawberry Bread

You will get a lovely moist quick bread bursting with strawberry flavor from this loaf.

Strawberry Butter

The strawberry butter is a delicious, decadent way to bring all of that fresh strawberry flavor home.

Strawberry Quick Bread
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed and chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan, set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, in medium bowl, set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beat 1 minute or until light and airy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
Stir into flour mixture only until dry ingredients are moistened.
Fold in strawberries.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let stand 10 minutes in pan.
Turn out on rack to cool.
To make Strawberry Butter
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and washed.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup softened butter
Place strawberries and sugar in bowl and stir. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. After 20 minutes is up the sugar should have turned to liquid. Drain the liquid from the strawberries, and set aside for another use. In the bowl of a food processor, add drained strawberries and butter and whirl. Put in a jar or container in refrigerate to firm up.
Serve with strawberry bread. This would also be great on toast for breakfast.

Beer Bread

original beer bread
I'm all about baking things that are 1. easy and 2. have a huge payoff. Beer bread is one of those things. It may just be the easiest bread in the world to make. It has a minimum of ingredients, and I'm not kidding when I tell you it takes literally 5 minutes to get the dough together for the oven which means you can decide to make it when you start making dinner and you will be rewarded with a sumptuous loaf of warm, homemade, absolutely delicious bread to enjoy with your meal.

Beer bread is a quick bread, meaning it gets it's rise from baking soda. The yeast in the beer gives it a boost while adding a nice beer flavor, how much or what kind of flavor is up to you and the beer you decide to use.

garlic, Parmesan and fresh basil beer bread made with pale ale
The possibilities are endless when it comes to deciding on what type to make. I made a plain loaf (pictured above) with a mild beer (Miller Genuine Draft to be specific) and the taste of the beer did come through. It was mild, but still delicious. It produces a slightly dense loaf great along with a soup or stew, or even cut for sandwiches.

garlic, Parmesan and fresh basil beer bread ready for the oven
Next I made the garlic, Parmesan and fresh basil variety. It was absolutely delicious. This bread I made with a pale ale. I used a beer with a more pronounced flavor to stand up to the strong flavors I used. I thought about using it to make a grilled cheese sandwich, or how about an open faced chicken sandwich? Or I might just eat it all warm with butter, this bread is so good!
banana beer bread made with a mild beer
O.K. I know this sounds weird, but I even made a banana beer bread. The results? A distinctly banana flavored bread with a slight background taste of mild beer. I thought it was yummy. A nice snack bread for sure.
So go ahead! Use your imagination and create a one of a kind beer bread of your own!
(I'll give you some more suggestions below to get your ideas flowing.)

Basic Beer Bread
3 cups unbleached white flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 12 oz. bottle or can of beer (use whatever type of beer you like. just keep in mind that the stronger the beer, the heartier flavor it will give the bread.)


1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan, set aside.

2. Get a large bowl. Place a fine strainer atop bowl (to use as a sifter). Place all dry ingredients in strainer and sift into bowl. *

*Or alternately, if you don't have a strainer, place all dry ingredients in bowl and stir with a whisk. The point of sifting or whisking the dry ingredients is to incorporate some air into the flour, because when you add the beer it's going to get sticky. We want to keep things as light as possible so our bread doesn't turn into a brick.

3. Pour in beer and mix, making sure to incorporate all of the dry ingredients with the beer.
Put dough in prepared pan. Bake 45 min. or until a toothpick inserted into bread comes out dry and clean. That's it!

You can brush some melted butter onto the hot bread when it comes out of the oven to give it a nice shine if you wish.

Flavor Options

garlic Parmesan, basil bread- add 3 cloves of chopped garlic, or a few teaspoons of dried garlic powder, 1/2 cup or so of grated Parmesan cheese along with 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil, or 2 teaspoons dried basil to the dry ingredients.

banana beer bread- add 3 mashed very ripe bananas to the dry ingredients.

garlic and herb- add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary , 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme with 3 minced garlic cloves, (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder) to dry ingredients. If using fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon each.

onion cheese- add 1/2 cup finely diced onion (you can cook the onion if you like on the stove and let cool. or use raw)or you can also use scallions. along with 1/2 cup of the cheese of your choice to dry ingredients.

Feta and Olive- add 1 cup diced olives (kalamata or black) along with 1/2 cup feta cheese to dry ingredients.

Bacon and cheese-add 1/2 cup cooked diced and cooled bacon along with 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese of your choice. Sharp cheddar would be good.

Sun dried tomato- add 1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan to dry ingredients, also a few teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning would be good here.

Basically you can add any herb you like, or any flavor that suits you. Just stir into the dry ingredients before adding the beer.

Also if you'd like to use whole wheat flour, you can substitute 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour with great results. Also you can replace 1 cup of the white flour with oats.