Over the last almost-year, I’ve baked more bread than I’ve ever baked in my entire life. I know I’m not alone, judging by the shortages of flour and yeast that were so common for many months of last year.
I baked every kind of yeast bread I could think of, and I like using yeast for my leavening agent. I even stepped out of my “easy” comfort zone and baked yeast bread that required many hours of rising, punching down, more rising, and kneading and more rising before putting it in the oven and filling the house with that wonderful aroma that only comes from freshly baked bread. That kind of baking was entirely out of my bread comfort zone.
My husband bakes with sourdough that he feeds and maintains on a regular basis. His artisan sourdough rye bread typically needs to rise overnight while we’re sleeping. Feeding and maintaining a sourdough starter leaves you with excess starter that you can either use or dispose of, and we’ve discovered that when he dumps the excess starter in the backyard, it’s a javelina magnet. Who knew javelinas will eat sourdough starter? They will eat anything.
The first time I made beer bread, using a lone leftover beer from a six-pack that my brother-in-law had gifted me from a new brewery in Galveston, I was hooked. It was easy, buttery, yeasty, delicious, (and let me say once again) so easy to make. I’ve made it many times since then using other beers.
You should make your beer bread with a good quality beer for the best flavor. When I bought a seasonal six pack of different flavored beers, I didn’t really like drinking the pecan porter that came in it, and used it in beer bread. It was delicious. Porter or other dark beer makes for a nice brown bread, while lighter colored beers like ales and lagers will keep the breads lighter in color.
So, how does this beer bread work? With minimal ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, beer and butter), the yeast in the beer joins forces with the sugar and helps the bread to rise. The baking powder gives some extra help in keeping the bread from being dense. While it’s a hearty bread, you don’t want it to be dense.
You are rewarded with a buttery, crunchy crusted loaf that goes well with any soup or chili, and dare I suggest, is an acceptable substitute for cornbread in almost any situation. You can also add mix-ins to it, including but not limited to chopped chives, chiles such as green chiles or jalapenos, green onions or any type of grated cheese. The options are only limited by your creativity.
Even if you have yeast and sourdough available in your fridge, give this beer bread recipe a try. Baking this bread evaporates the alcohol in the beer, so there’s no worries about feeding it to your family or consuming it if you don’t usually drink alcohol. It will taste and smell like beer, so if you avoid alcohol all together, this might not be the right bread for you. It was the perfect way to use up unwanted beer for me. Send questions, comments and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (12-ounce) bottle or can of good quality beer or ale
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pour in the beer and stir until just incorporated. The dough will be sticky and heavy.
Pour half the melted butter into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spoon in the bread dough and pour the remaining half of the butter on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bumpy top of the loaf is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Slice with a serrated knife, and serve.