Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blackfriar, Baking and Balsamic.

Continuing the baking theme in these pages, it's good to hear more people are trying out baking and cooking with beer. Campbell's Bakery in Crieff have been baking a beautiful loaf with Lia Fail and Ian, one of our regulars in the Brewery Tap on a Friday afternoon (come on down for a taste and a look around), brought in a heavenly loaf of bread baked with Blackfriar and chilli flakes - would be so good dipped into some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic. The previous Friday he brought in some divinely rich brownies made with Lia Fail. So baking with beer was certainly still in my mind. On Friday evening I was going to bake an ordinary gingerbread, but since there was already a half-opened botle of Blackfriar on the kitchen table, the loaf took on a new dimension. Especially when I pulled out of the cupboard the jar of ground ginger to discover it wasn't ginger at all but cardamom. Hmm... Since the butter was already melted and cooling in the frying pan and the sugar and treacle had been mixed together, I thought, 'Fair enough, carry on and add the cardamom in place of the ginger and throw in the last of my ground cinnamon - and while I'm at it, use the Blackfriar I'm drinking in place of the milk...'
You can see above a stylist's photo (all right, I took the picture, and you can also see I'm no stylist!) of the loaf complete with a well-thumbed through and stained Lofty Peak Recipe Book. The loaf did taste slightly gingery - cardamom, cinnamon and  treacle, together with the not-so secret ingredient of Blackfriar combined to give a rich, spicy warmth. Tasty and moreish. Lovely words, even for a brewer!

I'm not the only one to think that Blackfriar tastes good, as we received a postcard from our good friend Johny in Liberec, Czech Republic with his view on this mighty ale - I hope you can read them -

Diky moc & thanks very much Johny for the good words!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Dark Side of Chocolate Cupcakes

Been on a bit of a baking frenzy this week - three dense and very moist chocolate cakes, two loaves of rye sourdough, one wheat sourdough and one batch of chocolate cupcakes. I prefer to call them fairy cakes, as there is something magical about them.

The extra special thing about the chocolate fairy cakes is that I used Blackfriar in the recipe. We've been brewing it for bottling this week and I've been tasting it rather more than normal. Yes it's true, there are advantages in being a brewer! Anyway back to the cupcakes or fairy cakes. The finished article was a real success and tasted divine. Moist and rich, dark chocolatey and hints of dark roasted malt. Although I've called the fairy cakes 'chocolate', there isn't any actual chocolate in the recipe as the chocolate flavours come from the cocoa, fleshed out a bit more by the caramelisation of the dark maltiness of the Blackfriar beer. The dark muscovado-type sugar also adds its hints of treacle and molasses which really round of the flavours here.

Well worth a try and ever so easy.

40g soft margerine - I use the well known brand named for the bird that is said to deliver babies.
130g dark brown sugar
100g plain flour
1 & 1/2  tsp baking powder
40g cocoa powder
1 egg medium - from Hugh Grierson's free range honesty shop past Tibbermore
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
120ml Blackfriar Ale - indulge in a glass of the remainder whilst the oven works its wonders.

I use a wooden spoon and a big earthenware bowl for everything - a lot easier to clean and even better for getting your finger to scrape the last bit out.
Oven on to 170c. Tray with 12 fairy cake cases at the ready.
Mix marg, sugar, flour, baking powder and cocoa together to make a a well-combined crumble. Don't eat any! Not until it's baked...
In a bowl or measuring jug whisk the egg and stir in the beer and vanilla extract. Add this to the chocolatey crumble and stir in steadily, just to get it smooth and mixed. Don't beat it too much or you'll drive out the bubbles to lift the cakes up.
Spoon into the cases and into the oven for 15 minutes or until springy to touch.
Let cool for 5 minutes in baking tray then carefully put on to wire rack.
I like to dust them with icing sugar and then enjoy with a cup of Lady Grey tea.
Oh yes...
Slàinte and Happy Baking, Ken