Have you ever been to a steak house that offered beer bread with your meals? I’m thinking of one specifically that offered large mini loaves with your own cutting knife and whipped cinnamon butter… Mmmm… I’m not sure of the name of the place though, maybe Saltgrass? Outback? My memory has failed me, yet again!
Ever since Mr. Crumbs and I had to cut back out budget (and I mean REALLY cut back), we stopped going out to eat often. We treat ourselves now and then, but it’s usually on anniversaries or to share our favorite place with out-of-town guests.
Wanting to know exactly what is in our food also makes us cautious to dine out. There are a few places that we feel comfortable going to, but to be completely honest, cooking at home has grown my skills over time and now we enjoy eating at home more. There’s also a sense of satisfaction of knowing exactly what you eat, and knowing exactly how it was prepared. Mr. Crumbs and I can taste the difference, even if I followed someone else’s recipe. It’s like time and effort melted into edible love.
Beer bread is no different. This is the third homemade bread recipe I’ve made (potato buttermilk was the first, and maple oatmeal was the second, but that one is finicky so I’m gonna work out the kinks so you don’t have to!)…
UPDATE: the kinks have been eliminated and the bread is awesome! Get the maple oatmeal recipe here.)
…and it has surpassed the potato buttermilk in being the favorite. I think we’ve eaten more sandwiches (and toast and even plain bread as snacks) this past week because we want the bread instead of the stuff that goes in between.
I haven’t come across many people who have heard of beer bread and of those who have heard of it, they thought it was “difficult” or “complicated” or “elusive.” Let me put those myths to rest. This recipe is BY FAR the simplest bread recipe I’ve made so far. Truly, it is. If you’re new to using yeast, try this recipe first. You’ll love the results and feel empowered by the success to try another new recipe.
Beer Bread, yields two medium loaves
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
In your mixer, combine the following:
5 1/4 cups bread flour*
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooked brown or white rice (measure after cooking)
3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon wheat bran
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
12 ounces strong beer (ale or stout preferably), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk, at room temperature*
Mix by hand or on low speed until the dough comes together. Add additional milk or flour as needed and knead until the down is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl and cover with a twoel. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Grease two loaf pans with cooking spray. Punch down dough and form into loaves. Place each loaf in a greased pan and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the loaves until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. Remove loaf from pan immediately and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
*Notes: If you don’t have bread flour, you can substitute all purpose flour by adding 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for each cup of all-purpose flour used. I’ve made this using both buttermilk and a milk/vinegar buttermilk substitute and both have come out delicious.
As I mentioned, this bread is excellent for sandwiches or lathered with butter. I haven’t made cinnamon butter yet, but if you’re interested, start with 1/2 cup of butter and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a large bowl. Gradually beat in 1 tablespoon of honey at a time until you’ve reached the desired sweetness and consistency!