Why college students should bake their own bread

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Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

In the baking world, bread is notoriously difficult to perfect. Why spend hours in the kitchen nervously waiting for the dough to rise when you can buy a soft, yet slightly crunchy loaf from a local bakery or grocery store? 

Growing up, bread was a homemade treat reserved to the mysterious confines of our grandparents’ kitchens. Anything involving yeast was like some strange science project that was difficult to master. But, somehow, by dinner time, a basket of warm bread was always waiting on the table — with butter, of course. 

But sometimes things go terribly wrong and there is a last-ditch effort to save the rolls by letting them rise in the dishwasher. There are also people who dedicate their whole lives to creating the perfect loaf and babying their sourdough starter — a mixture of water, flour and microbes — until it is just right. Just read the “air” section of Michael Pollan’s “Cooked,” and you will truly be in awe at what goes into making a genuine whole grain loaf.

It would appear that college students have neither the time nor experience to bake a perfect loaf of bread, but don’t be fooled. 

Start off simply. Work up to yeast and then maybe the sourdough starter. Bread isn’t as hard as family legend may lead you to believe. More complicated endeavors like pretzel rolls, cinnamon loafs, focaccia and challah can be in your future. 

It’ll be a tasty, carb-filled journey, and this recipe has just about the easiest starting point: beer. Beer bread is an accessible and simple starting point for amateur bakers and carbaholics alike. 

You’ll want a pale ale from a microbrewery, giving more flavor than otherwise in this bread. There isn’t too much sweetness added to this, and the end result is a hearty, almost cheesy, flavor and texture. 

The melted butter gives the top of the loaf the perfect amount of crunch and browning. You are going to want to show off this bread, if you can manage not to eat the whole thing. 

The bread can be served on its own, with butter, cheese or some jalapeno jelly. Or a mixture of all of these. 

With a little practice, you could help your family with the bread this holiday season. Maybe it will have to rise in a dishwasher, but in the end, it will turn out just right, like a bit of magic covered it in the oven and ensured the perfect loaf.

 

Ingredients:

-2 cups bread flour

-1 cup whole wheat flour

-1 tbs baking powder

-1 ½ tbs sugar

-1 ½ tsp salt

-3-4 tbs honey, to taste

-1 bottle of beer

-3 tbs melted butter

 

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan. 

-Mix together the
dry ingredients. 

-Add the honey and beer, and let sit for a minute. 

-Stir until combined.

-Pour batter into loaf pan and put the melted butter on top, covering all areas of the dough.

-Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the top is brown and a knife comes out clean. 

-Let cool for several minutes before removing from the pan.