In this time of home confinement and empty stores, I thought I'd share some of my minimalist recipes from MAMA MAMA ONLY MAMA.
This week: World's Simplest Beer Bread. (Only 3 ingredients)
It is so easy that children can make it, except that you probably shouldn’t encourage children to open beer bottles unsupervised.
1 bottle or can of beer, any variety or age. I generally have a bottle or two of beer in my fridge that someone left behind, and since I don’t drink beer the lone bottle rattles around my fridge for many months or even years. This doesn’t matter. Beer drinkers may have rules about warm beer or old beer, but for these purposes, as long as it still makes that fzzzz noise when you open it, it’s fine. My personal favorite for beer bread is hard cider because I bought a six-pack two years ago and no one has any interest in drinking it. It adds sweetness. Summer Shandy adds lemoniness. Regular beer is perfectly adequate at making the magic happen. Some people say that beer bread can be made with any non-alcoholic carbonated beverage, but I haven’t tried it because if I have a Sprite or Ginger Ale I’m drinking it. I have no other good use for beer.
3 cups of instant pancake mix (the just add water kind).
Pay attention: this part is important. You are supposed to sift the pancake mix to avoid creating a bread-shaped brick, but I am not the type of person who owns a sifter. However, if you pour the measured mix slowly into the bowl and fluff it up with a whisk as you pour it, it works out just fine. If you don’t have a whisk—or don’t have a clean whisk—a fork will work as well. If your child is assisting you in this endeavor keep an eye on them because pancakes mix flies in a way many small children find satisfying.
1 serving of 1/3 cup of butter and 1 serving of ¼ cup butter. I mean two individual servings of butter, melted in the microwave. You can use one measuring cup and refill it. It may seem excessive, but have you ever said this has too much butter? No, you have not.
Add beer to the fluffed up pancake mix. Add 1/3 cup melted butter. Stir. Pour into greased bread pan. If you don’t have a bread pan, you can pour it into a round cake pan/pie pan. (Actually, I always make it in a round cake pan. While I assume it will work in a bread pan I haven’t actually tried it since I don’t own one.) Pour ¼ cup of butter over the dough. I advise placing a piece of tinfoil at the bottom of the oven to catch any drips, because when the bread rises sometimes the butter overflows. I think most people besides me already knew to do this. Bake at 375 for fifty minutes to one hour. (When the edge pulls away from the side and gets brown it is done.)
What if you’ve happened to find the man of your dreams and by chance they are upstairs in your bedroom right now and you have nothing in your kitchen to feed them, and like my stepmother, cooking is part of your man-trapping strategy (see Swedish Meatballs) and you have (bizarrely) turned to me to help solve your problems? Or, what if it is morning and there is no man in the house but you are hungry and in great need of a breakfast treat and just happened to read this far and all the talk of beer bread is making you want carbs but not just bread carbs but something more fun? No worries, I got you.
Crank up that oven to 400 because it’s probably a weekday and you have to get to work. Make batter as above. Take a big overflowing handful of mixed nuts from the can and seal the nuts in a Ziploc bag. Bash them to smithereens with a saucepan or other heavy item. (I do this on the floor.) Note: if there really is a new man waiting upstairs, you might want to check for nut allergies before proceeding so you don’t kill him accidentally. If your hands are as gargantuan as mine, this results in around ½ cup of smashed nuts. And 2 boxes of raisins. If you choose to buy raisins in the more economical large round container, aim for ½ cup. Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon vanilla. If you didn’t have hard cider and used regular beer, I’d add a small handful of brown sugar to the mix, or maybe sprinkle sugar on top. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm and with butter.
Remember, and this is important: if he really is the love of your life and if the muffins are a complete fail it won’t matter. One True Loves will find morning-after muffin fails endearing.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com