Monday, November 12, 2012

Beer Bread

Beer bread is one of the easiest breads you'll ever make. It's dense and hearty but still with a nice crumb. Once you've mastered the basic recipe there are endless options for add ins both sweet and savory. It's not so dry and crumbly like cornbread and but has a denser texture and stronger flavor than sour dough. It's a great compliment to chili, stew or a hearty winter soup. 

You've probably see "Beer Bread Mix" at a specialty or gift shop and it's probably been about $5 to $7 a pop. YIKES! Why? It's so much cheaper to make on your own. You could even make your own premix and give it away for Christmas gifts. Just mix all the dry ingredients and package in a jar or bag and attach instructions to add the beer, butter and then bake. Doesn't get much easier than that. 

Give this simple and tasty recipe a try. . .

Ingredients: self rising flour (If you don't have it, don't worry. You can use AP flour and you'll need some baking powder. See the note at the end of the recipe.), salt, sugar, melted butter and a 12 oz. beer (the flavor of the beer really effects the flavor of the bread. Micro brews are pretty strong, if you want something more subtile use Coors or Budweiser. Flavored beers like Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat work well. I really like to use Pyramid Apricot Ale.)

Note: The recipe calls for sifted flour which means you sift it BEFORE you measure it.

Stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the beer and butter. It's a good idea to set the beer out about 1/2 and hour or more before you start baking. If the beer is really cold, the butter will harden when you add it with the beer and will leave clumps. If this happens just try to blend the butter into the dough as best you can.

Stir just until all the flour is moistened. It's ok if it's kind of lumpy. If you wanted to add some shredded cheese, diced onion or herbs, now would be the time to do it.

Spread the batter evenly into a greased 8-inch loaf pan.
Then into a 375°F oven for an hour.

NOTE: Some recipes have you pour the melted butter on top at this step instead of mixing it into the batter. That is totes an option. The top will be shinier and the crust crispier by doing it this way but it can make a mess in your oven. Make sure to put the loaf pan on a cookie sheet to bake if you like this option. I prefer the butter mixed into the batter as it gives the bread an overall richer flavor. You could even split the difference and put 1/2 the butter in the batter and pour the other 1/2 on the top.

The bread is done when a toothpick suck into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool about 5-10 minutes in the pan then slice and enjoy.

This is my favorite way to enjoy beer bread. Warm and fresh from the oven with honey butter. Mmm mmm mmm good! This is the easiest bread you'll ever make.

Beer Bread

3 C. sifted self rising flour*
1 t. salt
1/4 C. sugar**
12 oz. beer
1/4 C. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Stir together the flour, salt and sugar.
Stir in beer and melted butter until just combined. Batter/dough will be lumpy.
Gently stir in any additions. (see below)
Spread evenly into a greased 8-inch loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

*If you do not have self rising flour use 3 cups of all purpose flour, increase salt to 1-1/2 t. and add 3 t. baking powder to the dry ingredients.

1 C. finely shredded cheese
2 T. finely chopped herbs
1/2 C. chopped scallions
4 oz. crumbled feta
3/4 C. diced jalapenos
3/4 C. chopped dried apricots
1 T. fresh grated orange or lemon zest

**If you choose savory add ins you can reduce the sugar to 3 T. or leave it out all together.

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