Cranberry Beer Bread

sacranberryRound-about Christmas time I start to see the Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack on store shelves.  I love all but one of the 6 selections in the Mix Pack (especially the Old Fezziwig Ale – the Christmas cookie of beer).  The one that I don’t care for is the Cranberry Lambic.

The Samuel Adams website descibes the Cranberry Lambic this way:

Samuel Adams® Cranberry Lambic is a fruit beer that draws its flavor not just from the cranberries it is brewed with, but also from the unique fermentation character imparted by the rare wild yeast strain. The result is a flavor rich in fruitiness and reminiscent of cranberries and bananas, cloves and nutmeg. The yeast fermentation also will create a slight sourness on the sides of the palate, a signature of the original Lambic style which, with the subtle cereal note from the wheat malt, remind its drinker that, as fruity a beer as this is, it is still a beer.

I found the brew to be just too juicy and sweet and as a result always end up with several bottles tucked into the back of the kitchen cabinet.  I tossed a couple this past September that were left over from the previous year’s Yule celebrations, and let me tell you….. phew…. a super sweet fruit beer just doesn’t keep.  I nearly gagged as I poured the thickened, chunky, and just plain spoiled beer down the drain.  And it broke my heart.  I hate waste, especially a wasted beer.

I was poking around in the kitchen last weekend for some tasty treats and found a couple of bottles of Cranberry Lambic from this past Christmas.  Determined not to let them go to waste I quickly came to the conclusion that the best thing to do with them would be to bake – Beer Bread.  A Google search yielded a recipe (I’m just not creative enough to make one up on my own).  The recipe is simple:

Cranberry Beer Bread
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 c sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz cranberry lambic
0.5 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF and lightly grease a loaf pan.
In very large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Stir in cranberries. Make a well in the center and add vegetable oil and beer. Stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 55-60 minutes, until top springs back when lightly pressed. Turn out of the pan and allow to cool on wire rack.

I didn’t have enough dried cranberries in the cupboard, so I went halfsies with the raisins.

The result: a nice sweet bread that was enjoyed with breakfast, and again with dinner.  The kids loved it too.  I have one more bottle of Cranberry Lambic in the cupboard, so I’ll be making another loaf soon.  I plan to use the same recipe for similar breads this summer: I am thinking that apricot beers, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (this is a Sam Adams fruit beer that I CAN get behind!), and even a chocolate raspberry stout could be used for some great baking experiments.

Grape Pie

Concord GrapesI just finished the last piece of my grape pie. For those of you who have never experienced it, Concord Grape Pie may be the most special treat of the fall season. The hearty taste of concord grapes are sweetened with just enough sugar to let you know that you’re eating dessert (although I have been known to serve it for breakfast as well). I thought I would share the recipe with all of you so you too could partake in Concord Grape Pie goodness.

We all know that a good pie starts with a good crust. I like to keep the crust on my grape pie simple to prevent the pie from being too rich. Here’s how I do it:

Cut together 2 cups of flour (1 whole wheat and 1 white) with 1 cup of shortening.
Add 1 egg, 1 Tbsp vinegar
Add about 5 Tbsp of water with a fork (fork keeps it fluffy)
Roll out the crust on a floured surface. This recipe makes 2 crusts, and the grape pie only uses a bottom crust so save the 2nd for another pie or make some cinnamon pinwheels with it.
Lay the crust in a pie plate and sprinkle it with sugar and milk.
The crust does not need to be pre-baked for a grape pie, but if you ever want to use this for another pie that needs a pre-baked crust, you can bake a single crust of this at 450F for 10-12 minutes. Poke some holes in it before baking to keep it from bubbling.

 

As for the good stuff, preheat the oven to 400F and gather up 4 cups of clean fresh concord grapes (that’s about 2 dry quarts or 1 1/2lbs).

Slip the skins from the grapes, setting the skins aside. If you don’t know how to slip a skin, it’s simple. Squeeze the little bastards until the pulp and seeds pop out where the stem was attached. It’s fun and the kids can help (but the grapes do stain).

Throw the pulp with seeds into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Transfer the pulp to a sieve or colander with small holes to strain out the seeds. You may have to mush the pulp through the holes with a spoon – don’t waste any pulp, just get those nasty little seeds out. Once you are done, add the skins to the pulp.

Mix 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour (white) and 1/4 tsp of salt. To the dry mixture add 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbps melted butter, and the grape pulp/skin mixture. Pour all of this into the unbaked pie crust in the pan. Bake it at 400F for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of sugar. Cut in 1/4 cup of butter until crumbly. Sprinkle atop the pie and bake it for another 15 minutes.

I like grape pie chilled with Cool Whip (but it is also good warm with Vanilla ice cream).

I am working on variations to the pie. I am thinking of making a thin peanut butter pie with the grape filling on top – peanut butter and jelly pie. What do you think? Do you have other creative uses for Concord grapes? Let me know in the comments.