Get rise from beer breads

Experts from the National Beer Wholesalers Association developed two new beer- bread recipes. Either of these breads can be prepared and frozen for up to one month before serving.

Both are easy to make, but be sure to follow the recipe directions closely, especially with regard to the time and conditions given for kneading the dough and letting the bread rise.

Beer and bread have many of the same ingredients, so it’s no wonder that they are often thought of in similar light. Both staples of man’s diet for centuries, beer and bread are primarily composed of water, flour or another cereal grain, and yeast, an active ingredient that ferments the beer and leavens the bread.

For a twist in preparation, try combining the two and making beer bread. This is simply bread that contains a flavoring beer instead of water as the liquid ingredient.

Pale Ale-Sesame Cheese Bread is made with tart, crispy pale ale beer. Mustard and sharp cheddar cheese also dominate the bread’s flavor profile. These ingredients combine to make a deep, golden-colored bread that is perfect for serving with lighter entrees like fish or chicken. Make this loaf of bread up to two days before serving. Just keep it stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Lager, Fig and Walnut Focaccia is a darker, sweeter bread with the flavor of rosemary, nuts and figs. Choose a red lager for this recipe. The spicy flavor of the beer is a delicious addition.

This bread works well served with heavier cuisine, such as Italian dishes, or as a first course with a sweet cheese. This focaccia is irresistible when freshly baked, but it can be made up to one day ahead, stored in an air-tight container at room temperature and reheated just before serving.

Pale Ale-Sesame Cheese Bread

1 bottle (12 ounces) pale ale beer

1 package (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons butter

11/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon salt

41/2 cups bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

21/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, divided

White from 1 large egg, beaten with 1/4 teaspoon salt

In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine pale ale beer, cheese, butter, sugar, mustard and salt. Heat mixture, stirring, just until cheese and butter melts. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Stir in cheese mixture and beat with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Spread additional flour on flat surface and knead dough 10 minutes, working additional flour into dough. Dough should be smooth and elastic, and no longer sticking to surface.

Place dough in buttered bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm location and let rise one hour, until doubled. Punch dough down; shape into a 7-inch round loaf. Place on buttered baking sheet. Brush top of dough with egg white mixture and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sesame seeds.

Using a very sharp knife, make large X cut, 1/8-inch deep, into top of loaf. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in warm location and let rise 45 minutes or until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaf in oven and bake 20 minutes. Loosely cover loaf with foil, return to oven and bake additional 20 minutes until crust is deep golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf; 12 slices.

Lager, Fig and Walnut Focaccia

1 bottle (12 ounces) red lager

1 package (8 ounces) dried Calimyryna figs, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

21/4 teaspoon (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

41/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided

2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons whole fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring to a boil red lager, figs and chopped rosemary. Remove from heat, cover and steep 20 minutes to plump figs. Remove figs and rosemary with slotted spoon and set aside. Pour beer into medium bowl; add enough hot water to beer to make 11/2 cups liquid. Stir in yeast. Let stand five minutes or until foamy. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to yeast mixture.

In large bowl, whisk together 4 cups flour, walnuts and 1 tablespoon salt; stir in figs and beer mixture. Beat with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Knead by hand for 10 minutes on surfaced coated with remaining 1/4 cup flour. Knead until dough is only slightly sticky. Place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm location to rise. Let rise until doubled in volume, about one to one and a half hours.

Lightly coast two large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Punch down dough and divide into four pieces; shape into round balls. Flatten two pieces of dough onto each sheet into 1/2-inch thick rounds, keeping them irregular in shape. Brush rounds with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Scatter whole rosemary leaves over each. Using fingertips, make dimples in dough, pressing in rosemary. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rounds 22 to 24 minutes, switching baking sheets on racks halfway through baking, until golden brown on top. Slide focaccia onto wire rack and cool.

Makes 4 small loaves; 16 slices.

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