Minnesota's most famous liquid is its water: the northeastern part of the state borders the largest freshwater lake in the world, and we have more shoreline than California and Hawaii combined. "Land of 10,000 Lakes" is emblazoned on every license plate, which is a bit of an underestimate--according to the Department of Natural Resources, the state actually has 11,842.
But another Minnesota liquid is bubbling up to prominence: craft beer. The commonly cited definition of a craft brewery comes from the Brewers Association: a craft brewery is small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less), independent (the brewery can't be owned or controlled by a larger, non-craft brewery), and traditional (i.e., no flavored malt beverages like hard lemonade or wine coolers). Using this criteria, as of 2014 Minnesota had 73 craft breweries, ranking us 16th in the nation. Even more impressive, these breweries are producing 4.2 gallons of beer annually per 21+ adult, which puts us at an impressive 11th in the nation.
The obvious thing to do with all this craft beer is drink it, but since my favorite way to consume carbohydrates is in bread form, I've spent the summer perfecting a beer batter bread recipe. The finished bread most definitely tastes like whatever beer you put into it, so use something you like. I've had the best results with Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Farm Girl Saison--its high carbonation gives the bread a light texture, and the hint of citrus adds some extra flavor. Lift Bridge Farm Girl is currently distributed throughout Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and eastern North Dakota; if it's not available where you live, I recommend using another Belgian saison.
Because this bread has a low fat content, it goes stale quickly; it's best consumed fresh out of the oven. However, if you do have any leftovers, it makes marvelous toast (and there is something delightfully subversive about eating beer-flavored toast for breakfast before heading off to your straight-laced office job).
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12-ounce bottle Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Farm Girl Saison, or a Belgian saison of your choice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thorough grease bottom and sides of a 9x5 loaf pan with shortening or butter.
Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add beer and mix just until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Drizzle with melted butter.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Bread is best when served fresh from the oven or toasted.