Breads and Pastries – Beer Damper
It has to be said that I am not a beer drinker. It’s too gassy. It smells very beery. (Yes, I know. When my palate is not used to it I still find it very hard to explain exactly what it is I don’t like about the flavour). While some love it especially on a hot day, I can honestly say I’ve had about three beers in my life, all of them in Port Moresby, all of them in one afternoon. Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English was playing. It was that sort of time and place.
But even though a beer is not the first bevvy I reach for, I was rather taken with a recipe I came across for beer damper. So much so that I reached into the fridge at the local bottlo and paid for just one bottle. I am such a lush.
The other thing I am not a fan of is the inclusion of sugar in my bread. I rail against additional and unnecessary sugar in burger buns or in manky sliced white bread, preferring to use it – sparingly – in sweetbread such as brioche or a fruit bread.
So it comes as a great surprise to discover that this bread is really rather wonderful. There’s a hint of hops and malt in the flavour and it’s nicely offset by the sweetness of the dough. It would be wonderful with barbecued steak, some jerk chicken, a charcuterie platter or some tapas and especially nice with strong cheese and nutty smoked ham in a ploughman’s lunch.
I used a pale ale in this recipe rather than a strong flavoured bitter or stout, and I don’t recommend you try anything stronger unless you really want the beer flavour to dominate everything else on the plate.
Makes a 22cm round loaf, enough for 8 – 10 generous serves
3 ½ to 4 cups self-raising flour; pinch sea salt; ½ cup sugar; 1 x 375ml bottle or can of beer (I used Cooper’s Pale Ale); 2 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 190°C. Use a little of the butter to grease a 22cm round springform cake tin.
Place 3½ cups of the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the beer and stir well with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour as you need to make a soft scone-like dough. It will be quite wet. Don’t overmix or knead the dough.
Place the dough in the prepared tin and smooth the top but don’t press it down too much. It will have quite a rough surface.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. After 45 minutes, brush the top with half the remaining butter. (I used some greaseproof paper to rub the top of the bread). After a further 20 minutes, brush the remaining butter over the top of the bread and return it to the oven for a final 10 minutes.
It’s best eaten the day it’s made, but you can freeze this and re-heat it gently (after thawing it) in a 150°C oven for 20 minutes.
$4.25 for a 22cm round loaf