Beer Bread Bowls
I discovered about five years ago that baking bread from scratch is a huge outlet to manage my stress and anxiety. It was an accidental discovery. I happened to be at a local farmer’s market where someone was selling homemade bread and I was overcome with a desire to make my own. No joke. I went to the grocery and bought about 14.765 bags of flour and loaded up my cart with yeast packets. I came home and went to town. I kneaded, and experimented, and stuffed loaves of bread with gorgonzola, jalapeno peppers, cheddar, rosemary, roasted garlic – you name it, I stuffed with it. The list goes on and on.
I’m not sure what about baking bread is so magical. Maybe it’s the very basic physical process of using my hands to knead dough for a while and then taking a break and walking away. Maybe it’s being able to do something more physical by punching down the dough. Then apologizing to my poor abused dough by massaging it some more and forming it into not so perfect circular balls to rise up again and be baked into some kind of bread.
Now it’s one of my happy places. When life gets too complicated, I escape by baking bread. That physical activity, yet mind numbing work helps me check out, if only for a short time, to forget about what is wrong with the world, or my life – even just for a little while.
We’ve had some troubles here lately with what I can really only describe as an ongoing family tragedy. I’m going to just keep hanging in there and baking bread while hoping for the best.
- 3/4 cup warm stout beer
- 2 packets yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 - 7 cups flour
- Stir together beer and yeast until combined, set aside for 10 - 15 minutes
- Heat milk, butter, and sugar until warm, set aside until cooled slightly
- Transfer milk mixture to a large bowl, add beer and yeast mixture, then stir to combine
- Add flour one cup at a time and stir to combine until it's too stiff to stir then turn out onto a well floured clean surface
- Knead and add flour one cup at a time until dough is smooth and elastic and flour is incorporated
- Transfer to an well oiled or buttered bowl, cover with a clean linen towel, and let rise in a warm place for 60 - 90 minutes or until doubled in size
- Punch dough down
- Turn out onto a clean, well floured surface and knead another 5 - 7 minutes
- Divide evenly and form into balls the shape of bread bowls the size you want
- Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet cover with a clean linen towel, and let rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size
- Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown
- I used a Black Mocha Stout from Highland Brewing in Asheville, NC
- The size you form your beer bread bowls will determine how long they need to bake
- I cut my dough in half, then cut each of those in half, and cut each of those in half, and ended up with 8 bread bowls