Ahoy! Baking: Beer Bread

4

January 25, 2010 by skwishface

This is not my recipe. It would never. Not ever. Occur to me to cook with beer.

For one thing, The Husband is allergic to alcohol. Which is awesome for when I need a designated driver, but does somewhat limit my options culinarily. For another, I don’t actually like beer. It’s bitter and foamy and tastes like somebody didn’t mix enough syrup in the soda. I have only truly enjoyed beer twice in my life.

Once when I’d been dancing my ass off for hours and somebody offered me a sip of ice cold Shiner Bock. Good gawd, that was heaven. In retrospect, anything cold and liquid would’ve been magnificent right then. Also, I was a little drunk already. Probably this one doesn’t count.

And once while I was making this recipe.

Praises be to Frank, over at Tasty Kitchen, and his recipe for Beer Bread. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and versatility. True story.

Why, you may ask, and if you didn’t then I’ll ask for you, because I have this whole bag full of commas I need to use up before they get stale, which they do if you’re not careful, would I even consider making Beer Bread if I don’t even like beer and The Husband is allergic?

My reasons are threefold:

1 – he’s had a type of beer bread before at my favorite steakhouse, and he survived with no ill effects
2 – this recipe promises to be quick and easy, and gosh do I like that in a bread recipe
3 – I had a Wild Hare

Ever get a Wild Hare? They tend to jump suddenly into your life and run around crazy until you do what they want. Wild Hares that demand inconvenient or uncivilized actions can hop into some unlikely places, causing folks to say of you “He got a Wild Hare up his ass to do blah.” At least, folks around these parts will. Say that.

I had a Beer Bread Wild Hare, and no good reason not to give in. But I had no beer. All the rest of the ingredients are kept stocked in my kitchen at all times, but beer? Yeah, no.

So I cruised through my local supermarket and found, to my delight, that there is a section where you can build your own 6-pack of beer. They have individual bottles of random nifty beers that you can mix and match into your own custom 6-pack, sort of as a way to sample different beers. Sold! I picked out two with interesting labels – because wtf do I know about beer? nada – and went happily about my business.

Here’s what came home with me:

I dare you not to say HefeWEIZEN! all day in a stern German accent.

I have a vague notion that Hefeweizen is a honey-like beer. A few moments on the interweb would clarify, but meh. And the blueberry lager just looked like fun. Which, I think, is the point of experimentation in cooking. Fun, that is. If it’s not fun, why do it?

Arbitrarily, I decided to make the Hefeweizen bread first. In my head, this whole process became an episode of Hogan’s Heroes, and I kept barking “HefeWEIZEN!!” to myself like some kind of wacky Nazi chef. Because Nazis are known to be wacky. I was in a weird place that day.

For exact measurements of ingredients, check out Frank’s recipe post. I went all-wheat-flour for the Hefeweizen. Frank said to sift the dry ingredients together, so …

Sift it I did!

Fun fact: sifting whole wheat flour leaves these little brown things behind.

Honestly, the sifting is the most tedious part of this recipe. Which isn’t saying much, because it’s not like sifting is difficult. At this point, I did a double-take at the recipe. Surely it couldn’t be that easy. Sifted dry ingredients, and then:

HefeWEIZEN!!

Mix it together as little as possible, because Frank says so, just enough to get everything moistened. The result ain’t pretty.

Lovely! (untrue)

And … that’s it. It’s all over but the baking. And the butter, but I’ll get to that.

Like magic, this recipe yields just enough to fit into one loaf pan. Well, I happen to own two loaf pans, and there’s this whole other bottle of beer sitting there, and I’m certainly not going to drink it …

BLUEBERRY LAGER! Not nearly as much fun to say.

Truth be told, I did try a sip of this stuff. And  if I hadn’t needed the whole bottle for this recipe, I would’ve kept sipping. The stuff is tasty! Which probably means it’s not actually beer. Or if it is beer, then it’s girly wine-cooler type beer, not manly beer at all. But it sure is pretty.

I used mostly regular old white flour for this one, and doubled the amount of sugar. I was going for a sweet, fruity final product. In the meantime, what I had was gloppy weirdness. I’m not even sure what to call it. Since it’s going to be bread, is it dough? But there’s no rising, no kneading, just mix and bake. Does that make it a batter? Should I combine the two and call it “bough”? Except that’s actually a real word, so what to do?

Datter!

Anyway, mixed up both batches and dumped ’em into loaf pans lined with parchment paper (for easy removal) and sprayed with a smidge of the cooking spray.

Frank doesn’t apologize for the next step, and neither shall I.

I will, however, apologize for showing a whole stick when I only used half.

Melted butter, that’s right. All over the top of the datter.

Damn right. Uh-huh. You know it.

This does nothing to beautify the loaves. If anything, the butter makes things uglier. You would not be blamed for having your doubts at this stage. I sure did.

But the finished product? Oh lordy.

Lager on the left, HefeWEIZEN!! on the right.

Whoa.

In no time at all, I had two beautiful loaves of warm, hearty bread. So much flavor! Not even remotely beer-y!

You know all that bullpucky that beer connoisseurs ramble about? Like a Sam Adams commercial with the spices and the hops and the stuff that normal people can’t taste in beer? All of that comes through in this bread. Each loaf has its own flavor, thanks to the beer used. The blueberry lager loaf was sweet and fluffy and fruity and marvelous. The HefeWEIZEN!! came out super hearty and flavorful.

Lovely butter on top does not mean you can't smear more butter on each slice.

If you find yourself with a dinner that would be best served with some warm sliced bread, and you’ve only got an hour to do it, please. Pretty please. Make some beer bread. It’s so stinkin’ good.

Thanks, Frank!

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4 thoughts on “Ahoy! Baking: Beer Bread

  1. Frank Speyerer says:

    Thank you very much for your kind words.
    During the holidays I baked 6 loaves of beer bread using a different beer for each loaf. I then wrapped each loaf in brown paper, put a hole in the various beer bottle caps, strung it on butcher twine and tied the loaves with it. It was a big hit. The recipients, six nurses my wife works with, could then choose their favorite beer.
    I am happy you tried the recipe.

  2. Lori says:

    WOW! I can almost smell it! Thanks for sharing! Let’s make some when I come up next month, K?

  3. Mel says:

    I just had to write, because all this time I’ve been spending a BAJILLION dollars for those Simply Tasteless or Tastefully Simple or whatever heckfire catalog parties’ bread mixes those are, for something that essentially costs a buck 2.80. Kudos to you, and to your FABULOUS writing style. I’m glad I found your blog! 😀

  4. Nancy says:

    I just finished preparing a loaf of beer bread and is in the oven as I write. I decided to research what I just did, you know just in case its a disaster, at least I would be prepared for it. I used hefeweizen for my beer loaf as well. Glad you loved it. I’m a beer drinker myself and hefeweizen is the beer of my choice. I can’t wait to try mine!

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