Monday, July 18, 2011

Ginger Beer

Isn't it pretty? It doesn't taste bad either. Ours was only very lightly carbonated because we did it in mason jars instead of bottles, so we had to open them to release built up gas while they were fermenting lest they explode.  (Mason jars are meant to hold a vacuum, not something pressurized).  The fermentation process ate up all the sugars, so I like to sweeten mine a little.  Next time I think I am also going to make it with ginger tea instead of water for added ginger flavor.
Read how to make a "ginger bug" in this post: Original post

Ginger Beer Recipe:
After 7 days your ginger bug should be bubbling, if it's not throw it away and start again.  If it is, it's ready to use. 
Dissolve 3 cups of Rapadura in 10 cups of boiling water (next time I make it, instead of boiling water I am going to use ginger tea, which you make by steeping cut up ginger in boiling water).  Once the sugar is dissolved add the juice of 4 lemons, and 20 more cups of water/ginger tea.   Mix well, cover the bowl tightly and leave for a week.  After 7 days transfer to eight quart bottles with corks or caps and leave for 14 days at room temperature. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lavender Tea Bread

Here in Seattle all the lavender is blooming, which is freaking awesome.  Lavender is one of my favorite things so I've been surreptitiously gathering it wherever I go.   Not that I really think anyone would mind me taking it, there is so much all over the place currently.  The smell of lavender always reminds me of my English grandmother, probably because of the Yardley's English Lavender soap she always had around.  Keeping with the English theme, I made tea bread with lavender.

Best served with hot tea.

3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons lavender
6 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 salt
(if you only have salted butter around, you can use that just omit the additional salt)

Baking Temp: 325 F (165 C)
Pan: 9x5 loaf
Cook Time: 50-65 minutes

1. Heat the milk and lavender together until at a simmer, remove from heat and let steep while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.  I strained the lavender out of mine before I added the milk, but you can leave it in if you want. (It should be noted for the uninitiated that you only use the closed flower buds, not the stems and leaves for this)
2. In a medium bowl cream together the sugar and softened butter.   Absolutely do not put the butter in the microwave to soften it.  Just don't.  Parts of it will inevitably get melty and it won't cream with the sugar properly.  If it isn't soft enough, mush it with your hands until it is smooth and soft (that's what I did. MMM, butter hands), then use a hand mixer to mix the sugar in until you get a creamy consistency.
3.  Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar and beat in until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
4. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and alternately add them and the milk/lavender mix to the bowl with the creamed sugar, butter and eggs, mixing the whole time.  (This is one of those recipes I was really glad to have a hand mixer for.)
5. Bake in a preheated oven until a stick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean (it will probably take more than 50 minutes, but that's a good time to start checking it)

Tea Owl is watching you.
I will definitely make this bread again.  It is an awesome dense, sweet bread.  Its kind of cakey and goes really well with a plain cup of earl grey.  (I like the double bergamont earl grey, but your tea choice is your own.)