Gay Beer Sandwich Bread: A Piece of Cake #21
Weirdly, I have Colonial Williamsburg to thank for this one.
What do Gay Beer, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Finger Lakes have in common? Well, absolutely nothing. Except that this beer bread recipe is based on a newspaper clipping I found in a 1975 copy of The Williamsburg Cookbook—a book I picked up at my favorite Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Canandaigua, New York. Tucked into the cover of that first edition I found a vintage clipping of unknown origin. The clipping was yellowed and tiny, and gave no hints as to its provenance. It was a recipe for batter bread, something I had never made before, but apparently is fairly common.
Batter bread is not quite a batter, but a loose dough that is poured (honestly, flopped) into a greased loaf pan and bakes up light and airy. More importantly, I’ve found that batter bread makes a perfect sandwich bread. It’s soft, but sturdy enough to hold up to a real Dagwood of a sandwich. I liked that unknown newspaper’s batter bread recipe just fine, but I wondered if I might like it even better with a little more depth of flavor.
If you’ve been following A Piece of Cake for any amount of time, it should come as no surprise that I’m not a sourdough snob. I’m of the belief that good bread comes in many forms. So, for my take on batter bread, I swapped the water in the original newspaper clipping recipe for a full can of Gay Beer. Unsurprisingly, it’s delicious. The flavor and aroma of the beer really come through, but the bread is still soft and springy. Not that I’ve ever needed an excuse to pick up a six-pack of Gay Beer, but “making lunch” is a pretty good one.
Gay Beer has been my go-to cooking beer for a while: for braising pork, for beer batter, etc. I’ve always liked Gay Beer because it’s a easy-drinker, but still has enough complexity to pair well with food. (It was our house beer at MeMe’s.) And a portion of their proceeds supports groups like the Center for Black Equity and Project Renewal. Plus, the can is really cute. I found that Gay Beer brings a nice maltiness to the bread, and the light citrus notes come through in the finished loaf. If you don’t live near a stockist, you can order Gay Beer on TapRm. And if you want to make this bread today but can’t get Gay Beer in time, any light American-style lager would work.
This sandwich bread comes together extremely quickly. Like, if you mix it up while you drink your morning coffee, your bread will be baked and cooled in time for lunch. And it makes really good toast the next morning, fried up in butter. A big thanks to our friends over at Gay Beer for sponsoring this week’s recipe, and a bigger thank you to whoever slipped that newspaper clipping into a cookbook they donated.
Gay Beer Sandwich Bread
.25 ounce package or 2 ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 can of room temp Gay Beer, or American-style golden lager
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Maldon sea salt
In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, Gay Beer, and sugar until dissolved.
In a medium bowl, mix the salt, half of the flour (1 ½ cups), melted butter, and beer mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatulata to form a batter.
Mix in the remaining flour until a shaggy dough forms and there are no remaining clumps of dried flour.
Cover the bowl with food wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Go by volume, not by time. Any number of factors can determine how fast your yeast rises.
Liberally grease a 9x5 loaf pan with pan spray.
Stir or knock down the risen dough, and scrape it into the prepared loaf pan. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Again, go by volume not by time.
Whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush the risen loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky salt.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 185-190 degrees.
Tip the finished bread from the pan onto a wire rack to cool. Do not slice the bread until it’s completely cooled. Slice the bread as you use it. Keep remaining bread double-wrapped in food wrap. Delicious toasted the next day.
A huge congratulations to our friend Miguel de Leon, who just received this year's New York Sommelier Award from the MICHELIN guide. They write that his menu at Pinch Chinese “holds exciting, natural wines from surprising corners of the world, with an entire section dedicated to female winemakers. De Leon is equally active outside of the restaurant: his published works in food media cover topics such as climate change and wine and racism and equity in wine.”
As I mentioned in APC #20, we moved to Provincetown this past week for work, and as a result, now have a FULL-SIZED refrigerator. For years in Brooklyn I was working with what was, essentially, a large-ish office fridge. To celebrate, I finally got one of these cheese vaults from Food52. I got the yellow, in case I forget what goes into a cheese vault.