Saturday night, before a friend’s birthday, our friend Megan came over for a quick supper. The pressure was on for this birthday to look our very best. I cannot offer a particularly lush wardrobe to my friends, but I can feed them. Saturday night I wanted something warming, homely (and with stomach lining qualities…)

I was given a few bottles of beer which I thought would make for better cooking projects than for drinking. I made a beef, tomato and beer casserole in the crockpot which simmered away all afternoon. I used another bottle of beer to make beer bread to eat with the stew.

The recipe comes from Jo Seagar’s book You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble, darling. It is a wonderful quick bread with a lovely soft mealy flavour. The yeast in the beer acts as a rising agent, eliminating the kneading and time spent waiting for the dough to rise. The mixture can be in the pan, in the oven in less than 10 minutes. You could probably wipe the bench in this time too.

The bread can be made with a variety of flours, or jazzed up slightly with a stuffing: fill the tin half with the dough then add a layer of onion jam, or spinach, or pitted olives, or roasted capsicums then top with the remaining mixture.

On Sunday evening, after a long day working at Toast Martinborough, I made a toasted sandwich with sliced beer bread, some leftover beef from the casserole which I shredded with a fork and grated cheese. Perfect end to a busy weekend.

Beer Bread

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 can/bottle of beer, made up to 500ml with water
1 handful grated cheese

Heat oven to 200°C. Quickly mix all ingredients together until just combined. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top and paprika. Or sea salt, or rosemary, or sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Place in a greased 10x20cm loaf tin for 1 hour. (If you use a 8x15cm tin bake for 35-40 minutes.

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