Bake a loaf of bread? Before Christmas? Yes, my friends, it’s possible. Even in this busier-than-busy week, while you’re running around doing all that Christmas shopping you should have done a few weeks ago (I’m in that boat too), wrapping gifts (and trying to keep the dog from opening them), baking cookies for the babysitter, putting together a casserole to take to Christmas eve at your in-laws’, remembering to water the tree so it doesn’t catch on fire, making sure the kids’ clothes are ironed for the pageant, and. . . You don’t need reminding, do you? Trust me. If you’ve got 5 minutes, you can make this bread, pop it in the oven, and take care of task #437 while it bakes for 45 minutes. Because while there’s plenty to do, we all need to sit back, relax, and have a bowl of soup (I’ve been making this lentil soup lately, with local greens) and a slice of hearty beer bread. And in case you forgot to grab something for so-and-so, mix all the dry ingredients together, put them in a quart-sized jar, and give it to the lucky recipient with a Texas beer. They add melted butter and a hot oven, and voila! Delicious gift made easy! Christmastime Texas Beer Bread While any ole beer would work just fine, I wanted this bread to be special for the holidays. So I turned to two Texas beers that are especially wonderful this time of year: Shiner Holiday Cheer (made with Texas peaches and roasted pecans) and Saint Arnold Christmas Ale (brewed with five types of malted barley). Buy a six-pack, use one for the bread, and then enjoy the rest with friends and family. 12 ounces Shiner Holiday Cheer or Saint Arnold Christmas Ale* 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup spelt flour** 1/2 cup rolled oats 1/4 cup granulated sugar 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup melted butter Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the beer (yes, the whole beer; resist the urge to take a sip or two) and mix well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and pour the melted butter on top. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm and fresh, or toast a piece the next day to enjoy with leftovers. *Don’t be afraid to try another of your favorite beers: good ole everyday Shiner Bock would be great, as would the Real Ale Brewhouse Brown. Anything you like to drink that has a little body to it will give the bread plenty of flavor. If you choose to use a non-alcoholic beer, be sure to add 1 packet of active dry yeast to ensure a good rise. **If you don’t have spelt flour (or don’t want to buy it just for this recipe), you can substitute another 1/2 cup of all-purpose or a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. Posted by Amber Byfield.