It was St. Patrick’s Day a few days ago. My original plan was to make some sort of Irish Car Bomb cupcakes to celebrate, but I’m trying desperately to reduce my refined sugar and alcohol intake, so I opted for a less decadent baked good instead: Guinness quick bread. Why quick bread? Because I am hungry and impatient and didn’t want to wait for a rise and a proof and a second rise, etc. I typically have good luck with these easy bread recipes, however on Wednesday luck’ o’ the Irish was not with me — even despite my Irish heritage and the fact I was wearing green. Quick bread is designed to be simple and provide near-instant gratification. You can literally throw everything into a bowl, stir it about 50 times and shove it in the oven. 50 minutes later you have steamy fresh bread to slather with your sweet fresh butter!
If only it had been so easy on St. Patrick’s Day… Having all but one of my ingredients on hand, I set off to find one can of Guinness. In London this would have taken me about five minutes because around every corner a news agent is selling singles of the Isles’ finest booze. But this is Dorchester, a quiet little town where the shops close at 7:30 and there’s only a garage down the bottom of the hill. I had a few minutes before 7:30 so I ran to Waitrose only to find a 4-pack of stout; I ran to Somerfield only to find the same. Jonny was still at work so I decided I’d extend my search down the hill. Surely Spar sells singles of stout? Negative. All they had was a 6-pack. It’s like someone was trying to tell me to drink heavily something.
I walked back up the hill feeling dejected, through fog so thick I could taste it. This is the fog of legend, I thought. This is the fog that brings the faeries out to lead unsuspecting victims into strange places. Am I being tested? I was determined not to end up in the middle of a field. And I was determined to find one serving of Guinness. I considered my only option was buying a pint at the pub and sneaking out the back only to get lost in the fog and find myself at home with a full pint of Guinness. It was the perfect plan! I rushed to get home and tell Jonny of our forthcoming shenanigans. But first we had to swim. And on our way to the pool, I came upon a random shop on a random street selling singles of Guinness. Oh News Agents of England, you never disappoint! £1.20 later I was ready to make bread.
I finally got round to making my loaf the next morning. Quick breads don’t rise very much, especially if you use whole wheat flour and don’t adjust your soda content, so to guarantee a decent shaped slice with this recipe, use a loaf pan small enough that the batter it fills it 3/4 way up. (I didn’t follow this step and baked a bread discus, but it was delish and we devoured it anyway). This recipe is very similar to Irish soda bread, using bread soda instead of yeast to rise. The Guinness adds a robust flavour that makes the bread a meal in itself — much like drinking a pint of the Irish stout! And one that can be enjoyed any day including St. Paddy’s.
Guinnes Quick Bread
Preheat the oven 175°C // 350°F
Combine and stir until just mixed:
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour // 300g
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. brown sugar // 100g
12 oz. Guinness stout // 350ml
3 tbsp. oats
2/3 c. walnuts, chopped // 50g
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 50 mins.
Recipe adapted from Sweet and Spicy Guinness Bread