Beer bread: honey + cheddar

I only recently wrangled up a fondness for beer. The hoppy, malty, fizz-and-pop delight seems to deter many a person my age, and a taste is only acquired after long experimentation and a sort of “aha” moment in which one realizes shit, this is actually not bad. Going to Europe and tasting beer several levels above the watery infraction that is Bud Light helped me acquire a taste for the beverage. A good quality type of anything can change someone’s opinion of a whole, be it drinks, jeans, books, colors, or human beings.

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Beer is a social institution. Sometimes after work I go out for beers. Grabbing a beer is a more adult version of sharing a cup of coffee in an afternoon. Done right, it is therapeutic. Cathartic, even. Some of the best conversations I’ve shared with companions have floated over a tall glass of ale. On the flipside, getting me drunk can also lead to bizarre turns of events. I have a tendency, once I’m safely home, to zonk out and wake up still drunk. I don’t sleep well after drinking even though the act makes me heavily drowsy. Just a fun fact.IMG_2810IMG_2803IMG_2797

This beer bread shouldn’t get you inebriated, unless you happen to lose it from one beer since that is all this recipe contains. If you do, no judgment – I’m quite the lightweight myself, though I’m happy to report the magic number is generally two-three in my case, depending on the ABV. The dough rises beautifully and lends its sweet-and-savory palate to a blend of cheddar and honey. I used Abita brown ale but any strong brew will do – I’m betting a stout would offer a great shock of hoppy goodness, but since I didn’t have that on hand the next best thing was what I had in my fridge. A flavored beer like Blue Moon, which has hints of orange, or even a pumpkin beer might add another dimension of yum to this formula. The specifics are up to you. I’m sure it’ll be great any way you spin it.IMG_2816

Honey & Cheddar Beer Bread

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 cup honey – I used orange blossom honey, but any will do
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
1 bottle strong beer
1/4 cup melted butter
4 T white sugar
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

ASSEMBLY: Preheat oven to 375 degrees; grease a bread pan with butter or oil. Sift together flour, powder, ginger, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix honey, butter, and sugar. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined, then fold in cheese. Mix in beer. Bake for about an hour or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool for at least 20 more. Serve with butter or additional honey.

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