Last week I was up in Dublin for the National Crafts & Design Fair in the RDS, doing a couple of demonstrations on the Cooks Academy stage in the Food Emporium. The title of my demo was Baking with Irish Craft Beer and I had a lot of fun using beers from Eight Degrees to develop recipes for Cheese and Herb Beer Bread, Porter Brownies and Caramel Ale Sauce.
I have to stress the importance of both buttering and flouring the tin properly for this Cheese and Herb Beer Bread. When The Runcible Spoon came to visit recently I didn’t follow my own instructions and, as a result, we had what I described as exploded beer bread with our Lentil and Bacon Soup when half of the loaf stubbornly refused to leave the tin. Shamed in front of a fellow food blogger!
Although I would generally recommend a lighter beer, I’ve been making this recently with our Knockmealdown Porter, some crumbled Cashel Blue cheese and a few leaves of chopped sage so you can ring the changes according to whatever combination of beer/cheese/herbs you have easily available.
After Thursday’s demo, the bread, although still warm when hacked up, made a fantastic quick lunch with a few ingredients from the Food Emporium. Topped with slices of Guinness and Cider Spiced Beef from McCarthy’s of Kanturk and hunks of Knockdrinna Gold Goats’ Cheese, it was more than enough to fortify us before the road home. Well, that and a few chocolates from Benoit Lorge…
Cheddar and Chive Sunburnt Irish Red Beer Bread
A cheese and beer bread is only as good as the cheese and beer that you use! Go for a well-flavoured mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, something like Hegarty’s, Coolattin or Mount Callan would be fantastic. I like this made with Howling Gale or Sunburnt Irish Red from Eight Degrees but you can also try Galway Hooker IPA and Metalman Pale Ale. Makes 1 x loaf.
Butter – 50g
Strong cheddar cheese – 50g, grated
Plain flour – 350g
Baking powder – 3 teaspoons
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
A handful of chopped chives
Sunburnt Irish Red – 330mls
Preheat the oven to 190°C (180°C fanbake). Butter and flour the base and sides of a 450g loaf tin.
Melt the butter, grate the cheese and set both aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar, cheese and chives, mix thoroughly and make a well in the centre. Pour in the beer and stir gently until combined.
Scrape into the loaf tin, pour over the melted butter and cook in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until well browned. Slip it out of the tin and, if the loaf is ready, the base will sound hollow when you tap it with your knuckles.
Cool on a cooling rack – if you can resist! – before cutting and serving with bowls of chunky homemade soup.