Beer Bread & Why We Have So Many Bottle Caps

BeerBread2-website

We drink beer around here.

Beer Bottle Caps

Can you tell?

Got an “A”: drink a beer.
Lost my wallet: need a beer.
Chips is on: grab a beer.
Tuesday morning: breakfast beer.

Are you feeling me? We really don’t need a reason in this house. Beer time=anytime.

There’s nothing like the first pull of an ice cold beer-for real. Yesterday, after waking early and having a very productive morning I realized I lost my wallet. Yeah, that really happened. Why? C’mon, you know why. I’m a hot mess. After searching in the hot-ass sun for an hour there was really only one thing left to do…cry on the floor in a fetal position get some beer. The dman came to my rescue and picked up a sixer of Hangar 24 Orange Wheat Ale. I love this beer. Golden. Tangy. Refreshing.

Hangar 24 Bread

The following morn I had one beer left. What should I do…drink or bake?

I decided to bake beer bread then immediately regretted my decision. That was my last beer! What was I thinking?  An hour later with a fresh cold one in hand, a calm came over me and I had changed my attitude. This bread takes less than five minutes to put together and then the oven takes care of the rest. That’s my kind of recipe as sometimes I can be slazy* in the kitchen.

I’d say this beer bread was a wee bit on the sweet side. Dried thyme and oregano were added to the batter but the herbs got lost in the mix. I’m thinking…next go ’round I’ll throw in a handful of raisins and 1 tsp of cinnamon for a sweet treat. Or perhaps, I’ll cut the sugar by 1 Tsp and add some fresh herbs with grated cheese. Either way, I have a bread recipe that requires no yeast, kneading or proofing and that makes me smile.

Beer Bread on Bottles

Now, if you’ll excuse me…Chips is on in five.

*slazy (adj.): simultaneously smart and lazy. Originated by Karen of The Art of Doing Stuff.

Beer Bread Photo Notes

by David

Gameplan

I wanted this one to be warm and low key. Most food photography is super bright, but beer bread is a comfort food that called for something a little different.

Lighting

To achieve this look, I used a simple light panel and a white bounce card. The panel is made of 400 Leelux that has a warm tint. Most of the time I correct for this tint with a custom white balance, but I shot everything on “Daylight” and left the images warm.

When lighting anything, you have to consider the nature of the object. Bread screams “texture,” so I placed the panel 45 degrees behind the subject and let light scrape across the surface. This gave the bread dimension and created contrast. To fill in the shadows, I placed a white board opposite the light.

The fill was minimal and left deep shadows to accentuate the texture.

beer bread lighting diagram

Bonus Round

After styling the bread to perfection, Mondo put the bottle caps together for the last shot. For this one, I wanted crisp, long shadows to give the bottle caps dimension. I hit them with a 20 degree gridded spot light from behind that created directional light with limited wrap. This gave the image a lot of punch and I filled in the dark side of the caps with a white fill card …. simple and effective.

beer bread lighting diagram 2

Wrap-up

This was a smooth session and we actually finished early. After the shoot, we went out and celebrated with our good friend Nadia Elahi who just got a full-time professorship at Los Angeles City College. Congratulations Nadia, tenure is just around the corner.

Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-90mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Shutter: 125
Aperture:  f/11

Beer Bread Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

Beer Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes 1 loaf
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (Note: Feel free to reduce to ¼ cup.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and any herbs and/or cheese, if using.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
  4. Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter. Slide a baking sheet onto a lower rack to catch any butter that might overflow from the loaf pan (there is no need for this when you use ¼ cup of butter).
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Brush loaf with melted butter. Serve immediately (or wait until later. I had mine for breakfast the next morning).

 

 

 

Easy Vegan Cookies & the Dman’s Meltdown

Vegan Chocolate Cookies with a hint of espresso. Eat them with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy!

This photo shoot did not go well-not on the first day or the second. And when photo shoots don't go well the d-man has a meltdown. You know, the "I don't need this shit!" kind of meltdown. It's not fun to be around, but I stick it out. Why, do you ask? Three words...Post. Meltdown. Magic. Let me explain. When something goes wrong the d-man gets mad-angry, temporarily succumbs to defeat and you think he's given up. But if you give him a minute, he refocuses, kicks it into high gear and puts-it-on-ya...photography-style. See Exhibit A below. ...but enough about the d-man's temperament. Vegan Chocolate Cookies with a hint of espresso. Eat them with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy! Let's talk cookies. Vegan. Quick. Yummy. These bad boys are crazy-easy and you'll be finished inside of thirty minutes. What? You read me. The main flavor of this cookie is espresso combined with a dash of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. What's surprising is not one flavor dominates. I loved this cookie with its crunchy edge, non-dairy buttery-ness and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Fresh, out of the oven these cookies were amazing. With its espresso base the cookie is perfect for dunking in hot black coffee. Guess what Dave did the next morning? Easy Vegan Cookies? Meet my Go-To List.

Easy Vegan Cookies Photo Notes

by David Game Plan This was going to be easy.  I've shot a million cookies so I had this shoot in the bag.  Since I went high key on the white acrylic for the Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, I would go low key and moody for the Easy Vegan Cookies.  Simple. The Reality I've never seen moody cookies and now I know why.  Cookies are happy and fun and going dark defeats the inherent nature of the subject.  I put the cookies on gray slate with a dark background and started shooting.  From a technical standpoint, I had my lighting mojo going but brown cookies against a gray surface is like wearing brown shoes with a black suit.  It just doesn't work.  Here's the shot: Rejected Vegan Chocolate Chip   Since the shot wasn't working, Mondo and I called it a day and went to the opening of an art show.  Considering I was shooting the same thing the next day, I left everything setup in the studio.  I never do this and always break everything down, but what could go wrong? The Next Day On the way down to the studio, I started thinking about Victor Schrager and the Martha Stewart Cookie book.  I loved this book and always wanted to shoot a job like this.  I had my inspiration. I reset the studio, metered the lights down to perfection and was ready to rock.  One problem: ------>I forgot to turn off my camera the night before and the battery was dead! I didn't have a backup and I didn't have the charger with me. Damn!  Mondo says I had a meltdown, but I was just a guy working through some things.  I got in my car, drove through 45 minutes of LA traffic, recharged the battery for a couple of hours and drove back to the studio. The New Setup This was going to be super clean and super Martha Stewart.  Mondo did her styling magic and staged the cookies.  Here is the lighting setup: vegan chip lighting setup This lighting setup is so simple, it's stupid.  The main light is a V-Flat (two 5x8 foamcore panels taped together) closed to a narrow strip with some bounce light going into it.  The white background is just a light bounced into the back of the studio and the fill light is from a piece of white cardboard.  For the stack shot, I used a piece of silver foil instead of the white board so I would have more texture and specularity on the side cookie. The Takeaway When things go wrong, I should chill because most of time everything works out.  After all, life's pretty good when you get to eat a big plate of cookies at the end of the day.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from TLC
Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe makes 22-24 cookies, depending on size.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached flour, 240g
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips(I used Guittard Semisweet)
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground coffee. Reserve a teaspoon of the dry ingredients and set aside. Coat the chips with the teaspoon of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a mixer add sugar and oil and mix for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and then add the water. Again, mix well. Add the dry ingredients. Fully combine but don't overwork the dough.
  4. Stir the chocolate chips into the dough.
  5. Use a tablespoon to scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets (I used a size 40 scoop). Put them in the oven. Bake for 6 minutes and then rotate the sheet 180 degrees. Bake another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. They will continue to cook a bit after being removed so they won't appear fully cooked yet.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips & the Truth About Me

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

The truth about me is…I’m a hot mess.

It’s true…and I’m well aware. Check out my stats:

  • my gas tank is perpetually on E
  • I lose my keys on the daily
  • quite frequently I say  “We have to go back, I left the _____.”
  • my car looks like he hasn’t been washed since the ’90s
  • …and I don’t even know where my phone is, right now!

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

I could go on but I’ll spare you. The d-man says it’s part of my charm but most of the time, it’s just annoying. Needless to say, my hot-messiness and I are at odds. It’s a constant battle, but I claimed victory the day I made these chocolate covered potato chips. These chips say  “I’ve got this!” And they were right.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

Chocolate and potato chips was all I needed. Two ingredients and I had temporarily slayed the Hot Mess Beast. Head held high, I took these little beauties to a dinner party and watched my friends’ eyes alight with anticipation. They were  incredibly impressed but had no idea that for some reason, my credit cards were in the trunk of my car.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

I have to give it up for the d-man. I mean…the chips looked good when the chocolate cooled, but they looked nothing like this. This photography is some next-level *ish*.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Photo Notes

by David

“You still got that white acrylic thing?”

“Yeah.”

…and so it began.

Mondo called it, and I shot it.  I did a few test shots in the baking pan, set up the white acrylic, and got conceptual with it.

From a lighting standpoint, these things were a challenge. On a single chip, I had to light a textured and reflective surface. I wasn’t worried about the texture, but the reflective surface of the chocolate could be a problem.  It would look completely flat unless I gave it shape with a bright highlight and a deep shadow.

To create this highlight and shadow, I pulled out my secret weapon: the Hacob light panel. This DIY light panel looks like junk, but it produces beautiful light with very soft transfer edges. Made by my former instructor Hacob, it’s a simple wooden picture frame filled with 400 Leelux.

Set shot:

Choc Potato Chip Setup

Ideally, this should have been shot on an infinity light table, but I did it with a piece of white acrylic propped up by a C-Stand. I placed a piece of white construction paper under the acrylic.

The lights:

1) The light in the back is adjusted one stop over my shooting aperature to create a pure white background.  The modifier is a 60″ Photek Softlighter.  It’s difficult to tell by the set shot, but the Softlighter is pointed upward to avoid refraction on the front lens element.

2) On the left, I have a simple white board to fill in the shadow area.

3) Lastly, on the right, I’m using the Hacob light panel to create a specular light on the side of the potato chips.

The funny thing is that after setting up the light panel to create beautiful highlights and shadows on the chocolate, I realized the back light was already doing the job. I changed gears and ended up using the light panel as an edge light.

Finally, to provide a better idea of how reflective surfaces work (like chocolate), here is a technical breakdown from the first shot of this post (back light turned off):

Choc Potato Chip panelChoc Potato Chip surfaceTech Notes:

Lighting: White Lightning X1600 monolight bounced through Leelux400 and Photek Softlighter 60″ for back-light
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Tripod: Manfrotto with trigger grip
Aperture: f/14 – f/18
Shutter: 1/160
Focal Length: 50mm

 

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (any chocolate will do. I used 60% cacao Ghirardelli)
  • 1 (9.5 oz) bag ridge-cut potato chips
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt for 30sec at a time. Mine took about 90sec.
  2. Stir chocolate until smooth and begin dipping the chips, about ½ way.
  3. Shake off any excess chocolate and place chips onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. Allow chocolate covered chips to dry completely before serving(about 2 hrs or you can refrigerate to speed up the process)
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week

 

 

Easy Apple Cake & My Not-So-New Tart Pan

Easy Apple Cake

Tarts are cool. Much cooler than cake or pie, for that matter. Tarts are just so laid back-like they have no worries. Unlike me; I worry about everything.

Ages ago I bought a tart pan…and when I write ages I mean sometime in 2011. Whilst pondering the very cool and laid back things I wanted to bake in said pan, I came across this recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. It is simple and unfussy, which is definition of laid back. Is it not?

Easy Apple Cake

This recipe is great if you want to make something quick and impressive for dessert or a lazy Sunday morning. I used whatever apples I had on hand which is invariably, Fuji. Fuji is my favorite apple, unless Honey Crisp is in season. Then I’m like…Fuji who?

This batter makes quite a bit of dough, too much for my 9 x 1.5 pan. I suggest halving the recipe or baking it in two pans. Otherwise, your finished product will be quite dense and won’t cook all the way through.

My favorite part of the cake was the crust-all shiny and golden. Would you consider me weird for slicing the crust off the top and leaving the rest behind? Yes? Then I guess I’m weird…and I’m ok with that.

P.S. Apple Cake accessories may include: floral jammies, french press and a king-sized comforter.

Check out the d-man’s lighting technique below.

Apple Cake Photo Notes

This shoot was a bit of a bust.  It started off fine, but plumbers + food photography = disaster.  Let me explain.

I work out of a really cool photo studio in a beautiful apartment complex built in the 1920’s.  I love the space, but last year, the adjoining art studio was taken over by a plumbing company.  Unfortunately, we share a common bathroom and I’ve learned photographers and plumbers don’t mix.  I have a “live and let live” attitude, but these guys can be a headache.

The latest drama came in the middle of the apple cake shoot.  A plumber knocked on my door and said  “We need to run a cable through your studio for the new security cameras we’re putting up in the hallway.” This wasn’t good.  I told them to call the landlord and went about my business.  After a few minutes, the owner came over and told me he really needed to run a cable through my studio and I told him he really needed to call the landlord.  That never happened and they bypassed my studio and did the job anyway.  I don’t know why a plumbing company needs “Mission Impossible” style security in a common hallway, but I now have the most secure shared bathroom America.  I also have a blown apple cake photo shoot, but those are the breaks.

Here is a lighting diagram for the abbreviated shoot.  The setup is the same as the cinnamon rolls recipe.

Dave

Apple Cake Lighting Diagram

Tech Notes:

Lighting: White Lightning X1600 monolight bounced through Calumet light panel
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Tripod: Manfrotto with trigger grip
Aperture: f/11
Shutter: 1/160
Focal Length: 50mm

 

Cinnamon Rolls & a Fresh Start

Cinnamon Roll

I keep my instant yeast in the freezer. Probably because I’m afraid of it. Well, that’s a bit much. Let’s say I’m apprehensive when it comes to yeast. It’s true. I’m seeing a therapist about it.

Last night I realized it was time to bite the bullet, conquer my fears, throw caution to the wind…well, I think you get the picture. It was time for cinnamon rolls! But cinnamon rolls need yeast.

I approached the freezer slowly… Read More…