Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beer Bread Solves Everything

I woke up on the couch at 6 a.m. this morning and immediately had to deal with three sources of anxiety:
1. post-surprise-party hangover
2. England v. Slovenia world cup match
3. two warm, half-full kegs of beer

After a good 5 minutes of misery, I got up and decided to make beer bread for breakfast. Coffee brewed while I made the dough. Then I settled down to watch the match while the sweet smells of baking and coffee calmed my nerves.

I've only ever made beer bread twice before. I googled a few recipes, one of which suggested no raising agent is needed, but my first loaf was a sludgy slab of crap. Second time I used baking powder and a half bottle of stout and I was hooked.

If you haven't made beer bread, you should know that it is one of the best ways to cook with beer. It is simple to make and, unlike a lot of beer cookery, really does showcase the beer itself. Beer bread is usually pretty dense, richly sweet, and has the most powerful yeasty funk. I've never actually used yeast to make it, I'm not sure how that would turn out. Maybe next time. For now, here's the recipe I invented this morning:

3 cups white flour
5 tsp baking powder
12oz warm beer (I used Blue Buck)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
handful shredded cheddar
pinch chili powder
2 tbsp melted butter

Throw all ingredients except butter into a big-enough bowl and mix roughly with a wooden spoon (it's too sticky for hands). Let sit for a bit while you coat a bread tin with butter. Bake at 375 for 50 mins then check it. Best check is to turn it out of the pan and knock on the bottom of the loaf with your hand. If it sounds hollow, you're good to go. If not, give it another 5-10 mins, but no longer. It doesn't rise like ordinary bread, so you might not get a hollow sound every time.

You can eat it on its own after 10-20 minutes of cooling on a rack. My wife smeared some with cream cheese, which is a good choice as the fresh tartness complements the hearty flavour of the bread very well. I find this recipe to be a touch on the sweet side, and I'd be tempted to use only a 1/3 cup of sugar, but the sugar is needed for the rising so don't skimp too much.

By 9 a.m. I was full, we'd won 1-0, and I had completely forgotten about the hangover. I went to work with a smile, knowing another slab of beer bread was waiting for me at lunchtime. What a comeback.


Note#1 I changed the blog theme because I read that light-on-dark can be difficult and even painful to read. I hope the new look is pleasing. Feel free to comment or suggest improvements.

Note#2 Thanks so much to amazing-wife and friends for coming to the party and bringing some exceptional beers too!


  1. Thanks for that, I find myself squinting less. BTW what was the other 1/2 keg of beer?

  2. sounds like an interesting experiment that will have to try one time. Always have beer I can add to the mixture..

  3. The other was/is Phoenix Gold. But that's more like 3/4 keg. I used up the Buck on the bread, and I boiled a half pound of rice in beer and stock. And, well, I drank the rest. The Phoenix I'm taking a gamble on being OK for tomorrow in the fridge, but if it pours like crap I'll make Lager-and-Lime ice-lollies or something else.

  4. I wonder if my botched homebrew would work. I think I'll try this Sunday.

  5. I just bought Phillips Pheonix party keg... Good stuff