Monday, July 11, 2011
This is the kind of bread you make when you're traveling ...
The 3-ingredient kind. The kind that makes delicious use of local Scottish ales. The kind that provides you with a satisfying medium for the tangy marmalade you picked up at that farmer's market (where was that?), or the fresh raspberry jam from the back-of-the-church charity shop in Inverary.
The no yeast kind.
But before we get to the recipe, let's set the scene shall we?
This is Inverary. A village in the quiet west of Scotland, on a loch known for its oyster beds. With a castle that's still inhabited by a Duke and Duchess of Argyll, who are just about the same age as I am and whose kids bounce on a trampoline next to turrets and rose gardens. There's a pub called The George with dark, brooding corners and fish and chips like you've never tasted. And three weather-beaten old men who sit on the bench at the top of the main street - day after day - and look out on the ships, the seaweed, and the open water.
And there's beer. An abundance and variety of ales and lagers and porters to be sampled in the uncharacteristic sunshine.
And, any leftover ales - those opened and not liked; those started and not finished; those not consumed by the end of holiday - should be respectfully made into ale bread.
This is a traveler's recipe - and by that, I mean it's made using only a few ingredients; it can be made to use up food you want to get rid of; and the measurements are based around a ratio, rather than precise volumes using measuring devices you may or may not have in your holiday cottage. So, improvise!
Scottish Ale Bread
makes 2 lovely loaves
5-10 min prep + 30-40 min baking + 10 min cooling
5 teacups* unbleached self-raising flour
3 teacups beer and/or ale and/or cider **(or substitute milk or orange juice for part of this)
3 spoonfuls of honey or sugar
*if you don't have teacups, use whatever you do have. Just use a ratio of 5:3 of flour:liquid, with a bit of sweet added.
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (360F). Grease two large bread/cake tins with butter (or line with baking paper).
2. Measure the flour out into a large bowl, then use a heavy spoon to gradually and completely mix in the beer and honey. Then, tip the dough out onto the bench and use your hands to finish the mixing process. You'll end up with a very sticky dough - just divide it into your baking tins and pop it into the preheated oven.
3. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and firm and a tap on the crust produces a hollow sound. Take the bread out of the oven, but leave it in the tin until it cools down a bit.
Slice it up and serve ... this bread will taste amazing with sweet or savoury accompaniments.
I used leftover beer from the night before (free), and flour is sooo cheap here in the UK ... so my two loaves cost me probably 25 pence, or something ridiculous like that.
I love Scotland.