Mixed Review: Guinness Bread Mix
I like to think of St. Patrick's Day as one last celebration of winter's soul-warming, gut-busting grub. For sure, March 17 is a day to raise an imperial pint of stout, but it's also a day to savor shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, and hearty oat-spiked baked goods.
Generally speaking, beer bread mixes are simple to put together. Instructions usually read something like this: "Dump mix in a bowl. Add beer. Stir. Bake." The Guinness mix was a bit more involved, requiring additions of butter, milk, beer, molasses, and (optional) raisins.
Once combined, my bread batter was quite heavy and lumpy—more like a bowl of wet cement than a ball of dough. Instead of pouring neatly into my loaf pan, it kind of fell out in clumps, which I then smoothed as best I could with the back of a wooden spoon. I slid the pan into the oven and set my kitchen timer for 55 minutes.
After only 45 minutes, I peeked in on my loaf.
It hadn't risen much, but it was dry and cracked on top and the sides were pulling away from the pan. I let it cool for a few minutes and then turned it out onto a plate. It fell out of the pan like a brick, and was only about three inches high—seriously, I've baked taller logs of biscotti.
I cut myself a thick slice from the middle. The raisins had distributed evenly (I hate when they all sink to the bottom), and the crust had a nice crumbly quality to it, like the corners of a really flaky scone. But the flavors were all wrong: floury, bland, and lacking in both sugar and salt. The texture was equally disappointing. Leaden and gummy, it tasted curiously raw and overbaked at the same time.
I can't in good conscience recommend the Guinness Bread Mix. But since I do want to leave you with something delicious to bake for your St. Patrick's Day festivities, here is my own recipe for Plum Biercake. Since plums aren't yet in season, feel free to substitute pears.