This is the time of nostalgia.
It seems as though every Christmas ornament, piece of greenery, homemade food, aroma, and music carries memories of years past. I find myself in the middle of work, just sitting and thinking of what I had hoped to accomplish and places and friends I had wanted to visit, but didn't quite manage to fit into life.
This coming year I vow to have more fun and to create more, visit with friends more, cook more, garden more, walk more, listen to more music, dance more, spend more time in Maine, and laugh and love more. Nothing fancy or far-fetched, just the simple things that warm a life from the inside out.
In honor of a friend's birthday, I pulled out my file of recipes and looked for something hearty and toothsome to bake. One of the first recipes out was the one for beer bread from my friend Bonny. I had tasted her warm beer bread a few years ago and begged her for the recipe. Now, when things are bothering me and I can't go outside and weed, I make soup and beer bread.
For the holidays, I chose some strong ales that have the aromas and taste of spices. They were perfect for this batch of baking. Herewith, and with a heartfelt flourish, I present my version of Bonny's Irish beer bread (which should be made with Guinness!).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Butter your loaf pan.
For some reason, I plopped the bowl and my Grandmother Lovejoy's loaf pan right on top of the set table. Why? I don't know, but I ended up making a big mess everywhere.
I love the way the dry ingredients bubble once the beer is added.
Ended up pulling out yet another bowl and starting a second (then third) loaf. This is how the mixture looks after a few strong stirs.
Spooned the thick, aromatic mixture into Grandmother's loaf pan.
Poured the melted butter over the top.
...and fifty minutes later the first loaf was out and cooling.
...and then the second and third, which I baked in a new, high-fired Italian terra cotta pot.
...and after the bread cooled, I wrapped it in natural colored parchment baking paper, tied it with baker's twine, and decorated it with fresh rosemary. The fun part was delivering this to our dear friends Frank and Aline.
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar ( I often use honey and simply use a couple of tablespoons less than 3/4 cup sugar called for)
Make a "nest" in the middle of the mixed ingredients and add one bottle of beer. Stir thoroughly.
Transfer the ingredients to your buttered loaf pan.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter.
Pour the butter across the top of the loaf.
Bake for 50 minutes.
Ahhhh, if only our lives could be as simple and straightforward as this recipe.
I send you love across the miles and fond wishes for a joyous and healthy new year.