The innkeepers took a break from the Northeast cold and snow and spent last week in Napa and San Fransisco, CA. It was amazing! Overwhelming! Inspiring! There was just so much to try and so little time… we came home equipped with all sorts of new knowledge about food and wine and some ideas to try for the inn.
Bouchon Bakery is a gorgeous spot for bread and pastries in Yountville, CA. While we don’t have their fabulous kitchen (or world famous bakers!) this spot inspired us to bake some of our own bread to serve with breakfast here at the inn.
This recipe for French Bread with Beer – shared by our guest and new friend Kathy – was a great way to start. And bread baking on a cold, snowy day was a lovely way to take my mind off of the 65 degree temperatures that we left behind in sunny CA! The finished product is beautiful and tastes like a dense, flavorful baguette… perfect to eat with a beef stew or with a smear of herb-y soft cheese.
French Bread with Beer
1 1/2 cups beer or ale (I used Pabst Blue Ribbon)
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp light oil (I used canola oil)
2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour or stone-ground cornmeal (I used a combination)
Heat the beer until it’s warm (not hot), pour into a large mixing bowl, add the honey and yeast, stir and let sit until the yeast is dissolved and bubbling (about 30 minutes).
Add the maple syrup, oil, salt and white flour and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Gradually add about 2 cups of the whole wheat flour (simply hand mix at this point, with a heavy wooden spoon) or as much as it takes to make the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a blob.
Plop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle on more whole wheat flour if it is too sticky.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat on all sides and cover and let rise until dough has doubled in bulk (I waited over an hour).
Punch the dough down and press out any air bubbles, plop it again onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Butter a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Use a rolling pin to roll each half into a rectangle-ish shape (I continued sprinkling flour on the counter, dough & rolling pin throughout this process). With your fingers, roll up each rectangle along the long axis to create something like a tight jelly roll. Pinch the ends of the rolls and tuck them under a bit. Transfer the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Make several diagonal slashes along the top of each roll with a sharp knife. Brush the tops with melted butter, cover with the kitchen towel and let them rise until almost doubled (I put the pan in a warm spot, which seemed to help!).
While you wait, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, fill a spray bottle with clean cold water and have a large cup of water handy (near the oven). Just before you put the loaves in the oven, spray them a bit with water and splash some water onto the floor of the oven (to create a cloud of steam). Pop the pan in and quickly close the door.
Repeat the splashing/steam cloud creation again after 5 minutes and then a third time after 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes or until the bottom of the loaves sound hollow when tapped (total baking time approximately 25 minutes).
Cool on a rack and try a slice with some salted butter as soon as they are cool enough to handle!
Happy Bread Baking!
Kate & Joe
There’s so much to learn about Asbury Park. We started getting calls about Light of Day back in the fall and I had no idea what it was. Now, I’m not originally a Jersey Girl and never vacationed at the Shore, but apparently should have known about this multi-city event that takes place each January. If for nothing else, I should have known that it is when everyone expects Bruce Springsteen to make an appearance (he has most years since the event’s inception). As such, tickets to the main event at the Paramount Theater on Saturday are sold out.
But the good news is that there is so much more to it. There are Light of Day events at The Wonderbar, Stone Pony, Asbury Lanes, The Saint, Langosta Lounge and more. Here’s a list:
Light of Day got its start in the late 90s as a birthday party for Bob Benjamin, renowned music industry manager. Benjamin had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and the party turned into a fundraising event to benefit disease research. This led to the establishment of the Light of Day Foundation and associated fundraising efforts and annual events. Today, Light of Day has a presence in Canada, Europe and Australia, in addition to the U.S. So, yeah, this coming weekend is kind of a big deal!
Light of Day 2015 kicked off this past weekend and runs through January 19. We currently have availability at the inn – call 732-740-4650 to inquire. Mention this post and we’ll take 10% your stay.
Can’t make it this weekend and need an excuse to plan a trip to Asbury Park? Check out Beerfest on February 21 & 22! http://asburyparkbeerfest.com/
We are very excited to announce our new name – Asbury Park Inn – and to unveil this, our new website! After almost a year as innkeepers, it feels like a good time to make some changes and make the inn feel more like our own!
Several people have asked what our favorite thing is about being innkeepers. And we tell them – with all honesty – that our favorite part (so far) is our guests. With every check out, we’re sorry to see guests go. But we’re happy that we met some very cool people and that we were able to enthusiastically welcome them to our new hometown.
This usually turns into a conversation about the awesomeness of Asbury Park. There is something unique about visiting a city on the upswing… it makes you feel like you’re contributing to its success… like you’re keeping the buzz going. As new residents of said city on the upswing, we have the pleasure of experiencing it mid-development. There is so much going on in Asbury Park – several restaurants in the pipeline (http://www.crossandorangeap.com/), a beer garden on the verge of opening (http://www.asburybiergarten.com/), new shops popping up on Cookman (http://www.interwovenap.com/) and town homes and condos being built.
We haven’t even touched on all of the other things Asbury Park has to offer – the beach, the music, the art, the theater… We’ll get to that.
Kate & Joe