I promise I do cook and bake food without alcohol, but I thought I would continue the trend and post another one of my favorite recipes that also happens to include beer. Could you make truffles and bread without beer? Sure, I suppose. But the beer just takes this bread to the next level. Unlike last week’s post, this recipe is one that I make on a regular basis. Beer bread is technically a “quick bread,” which means you can let the beer act as a leavening agent and save time waiting for the bread to rise. I love making a fancy loaf of homemade challah as much as the next person (because I am a challah-back girl, ya feel me?), but I do not always have the time to devote to bread making.
Y’all didn’t think I spent the time I saved making this bread recipe on my dissertation, did you? Instead of spending hours making one traditional bread, I have spent days over the past year experimenting with beer bread and playing around with some of the components to find the perfect blend of ingredients, if I do say so myself. I started by reading a beer bread recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Gimme Some Oven. You can find her recipe here.
Let’s start by talking about the beer, the crucial ingredient for this recipe. I am a beer snob; I’ll admit it. How can I not appreciate the amazing craft beer scene in North Carolina? Visiting breweries around the state and sampling new brews is a great hobby that has resulted in my developing new friendships and new favorite styles. I joke with my friends that I would want my bachelorette party (whenever that may be) in Asheville because of the South Slope area that contains so many of my favorite breweries.
All of this isn’t to say I always drink craft beer. Experimental IPAs, imperial stouts, goses, etc. just do not sound appealing when I’m spending the day watching football or ending a night out on the town (that I’ve spent primarily drinking wine or cocktails). My favorite “cheap” beer is Miller Lite, and I think it has its place in life and in recipes like this one. I don’t claim this is the best cheap beer. However, I have a strong attachment to it because my maternal grandmother, Betty, always drank Miller Lite when we would have a family dinner at her house or a restaurant. My sister and I laughed as Grandma would ask our servers for a “big, frosty glass of Miller Lite” because she always motioned with her hands that she wanted the schooner size (18 oz.), not the regular pint glass. Everything’s bigger in Texas! Unfortunately, my grandma passed away this past July. I miss hearing her voice over the phone and visiting her when I went home, so I’m dedicating this recipe to her. My only wish is that she were here to enjoy a slice.
I can tell you after playing around with different types of beer (craft and corporate) that Miller Lite not only produces the best bread, but it provides a sense of comfort to me because I think about my grandma with every bite.
However, if you like darker beers, they also work great. I have used oatmeal porters, amber ales, bocks, and stouts in bread, and all taste amazing, but you definitely get a stronger beer taste when using these styles because of the malty notes in these brews.
Along with the beer, you can also feel free to use the type of sweetener you prefer. I am partial to maple syrup, so I include it in this recipe, but sometimes I use other sweeteners that I have on hand. I’ve used molasses, honey, and sugar, so I can vouch for these ingredients playing nicely with the others. If you decide to use molasses, make sure you like it because you will taste it. I love molasses, but my friends whose love is not quite as intense (maybe they just aren’t southern enough?) prefer when I make the bread with honey or syrup. I myself am not huge on honey (except in baklava…shoutout to my Greek roots), so I use maple syrup to channel my spirit-animal, Buddy the Elf, and achieve a milder flavor.
Finally, I have experimented with different types of flour and concluded that bread flour yields a softer, chewier loaf compared to all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour. Bread flour has more gluten (#glutenfull, amirite?), so you use this flour when baking traditional (non-quick) breads to create an airy texture. If you’re like me and enjoy nerding out/procrastinating by reading about flour types (and reading Bon Appetit just generally), click here.
Customize this recipe to your hearts content by playing around with the three ingredients I discussed above, but make sure to include the remaining ingredients. This one’s for you, Grandma!
Betty’s Beer Bread
Yields: one loaf
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz Miller Lite
1/4 cup of butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the bread flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. I use a large 4 quart Pyrex bowl, which was part of a set from Target. I highly recommend buying it here.
- Open the can or bottle of beer, and let it rest on the counter for about five minutes. Pour the beer into the flour mixture.
- Pour the maple syrup into the flour mixture. Tip: Use cooking spray to spray your measuring cup before pouring in the syrup. This trick ensures none of the syrup will stick to the measuring cup.
- Slowly stir the ingredients until combined. Enjoy the sweet smell of beer and syrup while mixing.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, and top with the melted butter.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. I prefer a softer loaf, but if you like a crunchier outside, leave the bread in the oven for a longer amount of time.