Butter melting in the skillet, beautiful baby white potatoes ready to dip in, crusty bread, red wine. Ah.
Josh and Sophie are playing “Catch Me” in the yard.
I was almost caught while sneaking out to gather some herbs.
And so the year of the bread continues with a loaf with roots–my German roots. German food is good any time of year but the fall calls for pale boiled potatoes, luscious meats, pungent cheeses, good beer, and equally good bread.
I found a fantastic recipe for brown beer bread in an old Cooking Light magazine that a friend brought over. If you could have tasted the air in my kitchen while I was putting this bread together…oh my. Josh walked in while I was punching down the dough and commented on how much it smelled like Würzburg. I agreed.
Josh and I spent a bit of time in Germany over the Christmas holiday one year.
We had a ticket in to Frankfurt and a ticket out of Nuremberg. That was it. No reservations, no plans, nothing. It was up to us to make our way across the bottom of Germany. Without knowing German.
Oh but Germany during the holidays was enchanting and Würzburg was possibly one of the loveliest places of all.
We stayed in a charming bed and breakfast that had a dining room which served supper and was open to the public. And the German public came.
While we traveled, we had a rule: speak as little as possible. (We learned as much of the native language as we could, but knew our accents would give us away.) This worked quite well, except for when it came to ordering off menus. Waiters always discovered our secret.
At the inn in Würzburg, the waiter pretty much chose our meals for us and what a fine job he did. The brown beer bread recipe brings many of those flavors I experienced while in Germany together in one hearty loaf. I hope you get the chance to make this bread. If not, you’ll just have to book a flight to Schönes Deutschland.
Brown Beer Wheat Bread
1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/8 teaspoons sugar, divided 2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm brown beer (100 to 110 degrees) 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided 1 cup whole wheat flour (or rye)
cooking spray 1 teaspoon water 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté 4 minutes until golden brown. Set onions aside to cool.
2. Warm beer (I used the microwave). Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon sugar and the yeast in the beer. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Stir yogurt,vinegar, and salt into the beer mixture. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and egg. Stir with a whisk. If you would like to make a rye bread, this is when you would add 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
4. Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and the whole wheat flour to the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Stir in the onions.
5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from being too sticky to handle. Add 1 tablespoon at a time.
6. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in the bowl and turn once over to coat the loaf with the oil.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise it in a warm place, free from drafts for about 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
8. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes.
9. Shape the dough into a 12-inch oval loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 30 minutes or until it has doubled again.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Combine 1 teaspoon water and the egg white in a small bowl. Brush the egg mixture over the loaf.
12. Bake the loaf for 28 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you give it a tap.
13. Cool on a wire rack.
*Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2006.