Beer bread— bet you haven't heard that term since the 90's. It reminds me of St Elmo's Fire, my favorite Ralph Lauren barn coat and Anne and Franks's cabin in Cumberland. Specifically, a beer bread mix in a white cloth bag in the kitchen— next to a little brown bag of Carroll Shelby's chili mix. That mix was my first attempt at bread making and I'll never forget how I felt when I pulled that golden loaf out of the oven— like a true domestic goddess.
It's been years since I've made beer bread and I decided to take a crack at it again. While I'm no longer a novice in the kitchen and I'm still working very hard at my domestic goddess title (no one told me it involved laundry and washing the floor), coming up with a beer bread to rival that first loaf required some thought. I've been playing around with using apples in savory dishes and beer bread with cheddar and onions was a good place to give it a whirl. It was a satisfying hunch, the apples balanced the tart ale and sharp cheddar quite well and it was delicious toasted. The loaf I made the other day was a lot fancier than the beer bread from a bag I made 20 some years ago in the kitchen on Jeffrey Boulevard but it awakened a sweet memory I thought I had forgotten— fresh bread, made by yours truly, at the Cabin.
Cheddar Beer Bread with Apples & Caramelized Onions
2 tart Gala or Cortland apples, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup of butter (plus extra to coat the loaf pan)
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized (about 30 minutes). In another sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of honey, add the apples and sauté for 10 minutes or until the apples are softened and lightly browned.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a loaf pan. In a small sauce pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the beer and maple syrup into the pan and vigorously mix until thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients. Fold in the apples, onions, cheese and rosemary.
Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and pour the melted butter over the top. Bake for one hour or until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then place on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.