Guinness Bread
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I feel like I have been having déjá vu a lot lately... First with La Noche de España and again just this past Thursday. The past two days it has been cooler and rainy. I am not complaining at all! It has definitely been a good change of pace from the crazy heat that we had earlier in the summer. As I was working at Starbucks on Wednesday, I looked out the windows and was immediately transported back to Dublin, Ireland. The weather was exactly the same that I had while I was visiting Dublin in December of 2008. The temperature, the cloudy skies, the light rain slapping gently against the pavement. Can we say, "hello nostalgia"? Why is it that every time I think of something that I have done, it makes me miss it that much more - living in Granada, Spain, living in New York City, college... It wasn't until my visit to Ireland that I began truly loving beer. And to this day, my favorite beer is still the one that I first tried in Dublin...

Guinness.

Maybe it is because I was in the birthplace of Guinness, but I immediately became smitten with this beer. It was all that I wanted. And to this day, I will take a pint of Guinness over any other beer.

While in Dublin, my friends and I went to the Guinness Distillery and learned how to pour the "perfect pint."

Most nights we would go to local pubs, listen to Irish music, mingle with the natives, and enjoy pints of this pure black gold. I can honestly say that Guinness tastes different in Dublin. Not that it is bad here in the United States, but once you've had true Irish Guinness, your appreciation and loyalty to it will be forever long.

So there I was on Wednesday, longing to be back in Dublin. Longing for that true Irish Guinness. However, we all know that I don't have the money to pick up and fly to Ireland on a whim, especially on a Starbucks salary. So what was I to do?

Guinness...I could just get a pack and drink it. That may have satiated my craving, but I wanted more. How else could I get my fix?

Beer bread! My cousin introduced me to this simple recipe last Thanksgiving while we were visiting family in Connecticut. Typically it is made with cheaper beer - Bud Light, Miller Lite. Being the Guinness enthusiast that I am, I am not a huge fan of domestic beer. It has its time and place (cough-college-cough), but no thank you. Why couldn't I make beer bread using Guinness?

Off to the internet I went in search of the perfect recipe. I feel across one from Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. It was essentially the same recipe except it replaced bad beer with good beer and honey with molasses. YES!

I woke up this morning feeling a little inappropriate that I would be cracking open a Guinness before 9:00am. It isn't St. Patrick's day...am I even allowed to do this? I mean, let's be honest here, there was no way that I was going to bake using my favorite beer and not allow myself a swig or two...or three... After coming to the conclusion that such allowances were for the sake of the art, I quickly dispelled any and all hesitations from my mind.

I brought my Macbook Pro into the kitchen, turned on Mumford & Sons latest single, I Will Wait (if you have not yet heard it, I beg you, click the link! In fact, do it right now, open the link in a new tab or window and listen to it while you read the rest of this post! It is that amazing.), made myself a latte, and began making Guinness Bread from scratch. Any ideas that you may have of bread-making being difficult, forget it! This recipe is not hard. There are five ingredients. Mix them. Stick it in the oven. Seriously, it is that easy!

Even though I am not in Ireland right now, and even though the weather here in Libertyville is no longer rainy, this bread seemed to help alleviate my growing nostalgia. Yes, I would give anything to be back in Dublin, but for now, a little Guinness Bread and some picture-viewing sessions will have to make do.

Guinness Bread

3 cups self-rising flour* 1/2 cup white sugar 1/3 cup molasses a pinch of salt (roughly 1/8 teaspoon) 12 ounces of Guinness beer Butter for greasing the pan and painting the top, about 3 tablespoons

*If you don't have self-rising flour, you can substitute using a ratio of 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, plus 1/8 teaspoon salt, for every cup of self-rising flour. This option will do, but best results are seen with self-rising flour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch lof pan well with butter.

Pour the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Slowly pour the Guinness into the mixture. Start stirring the beer into the dry ingredients, and when you are about halfway done, add the molasses. Mix well, just to combine.  Don't overwork the batter - that's what it will look like, but you don't want lumps either.

Pour into the loaf pan to no more than 2/3 full. Put into the oven immediately and bake for 50 minutes. Since ovens can vary, check the bread after 40 minutes and see if a toothpick inserted into the deepest part of the loaf comes out clean. If it does, you're done.

Let the loaf cool a bit, maybe 5 minutes, and then turn it out onto a rack. Paint it with lots of soft butter, which will melt as you go.

Enjoy!