Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beer Bread (Sweet and Cheesy Varieties)

After a week of convalescence, I have a confession to make: I'm a terrible, terrible patient.

When I'm not forgetting to take my medication, I'm misplacing it. When I'm not chafing against the doctors restrictions, I'm neglecting them. I know I should be more careful, pay closer attention and take things slowly. I know the limitations are intended for my good. I know that, in the end, my compromised convalescence hurts only me. But the truth is that recovery is always so terribly inconvenient.

I didn't always feel this way. In fact, when I was little I actually enjoyed being home sick. I suppose I should clarify: it wasn't the being sick part I enjoyed - that made me as miserable as anyone else - I simply relished being home.

Cheesy loaf with all-purpose flour

Growing up in a family of seven people, our house was always busy and bustling. On most days, I wouldn't have traded our full and happy home for anything, but on occasion it was nice to be home alone, just me and my mum - even if that solitude came at the price of a few hours on the sickbed. Liquid Jello was her secret weapon in the fight against sickness, and that, coupled with customary sickbed screenings of The Princess Bride, usually had me feeling better in no time.

I didn't make any liquid Jello this past week, but I did have a different (and somewhat inexplicable) craving - beer bread! I'd made a loaf when we were visiting Matt's parents last month and I guess I'd been subconsciously craving it ever since.

Mixed whole wheat and white cheesy loaf

Unfortunately, there were two strikes against my choice, it being both solid and made with alcohol. I tried to convince Matt that, with 28 teeth still in my mouth, I could easily gum a piece of fresh bread. He wasn't so sure and, in any case, didn't think I should be mixing painkillers with alcohol, even in bread form (he's sensible like that).

Eventually I had to agree, but that didn't mean I was dissuaded. For the next five days, I thought about beer bread. Nonstop.

I thought about beer bread while I sucked down glasses of milk. I thought about beer bread while I gummed bowls of watery applesauce. I thought about beer bread while I spooned down bowls of pudding.

And then, as soon as I got the all-clear from my dentist this week, I made some.

And boy, was it delicious. Definitely just what the doctor ordered.

Cheesy Beer Bread
adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (substitute all-purpose for a lighter loaf)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (optional)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
12 oz. beer
2 tablespoons butter, melted (I prefer salted for this recipe!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder. Stir until well blended. Add 2/3 cup of shredded cheese, reserving the rest to top your loaf. Stir to combine. Gradually add beer to the dry ingredients, stirring until all ingredients are just combined and moistened (mixture will be lumpy and quite possibly a little 'shaggy' - you can use your hands to gather it together at this point).

Move bread mixture into the prepared loaf pan and top with remaining shredded cheddar. Pour melted butter evenly over the top of the loaf. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Sweet Beer Bread
Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for garlic powder, if desired. Omit cheddar cheese. You can also add a drizzle of honey or increase the brown sugar to 1/2 cup. Top unbaked loaf with melted butter and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of brown sugar before baking. This loaf is naturally sweet so a little added sugar goes a long way!

A few notes: This recipe is probably one of the easiest ways to get delicious, fresh bread at home. You may have noticed that it doesn't involve any kneading or rising - that makes it a quick bread, but thanks to the beer, it has all the flavor and body of a real, yeasted loaf. I imagine this recipe would be amazing made with batch-brewed, craft beer, but I can vouch for the fact that it turns out just fine when made with Coors Light, too (classy, I know). Even the cheesy version has a hint of sweet, which makes this loaf a perfect vehicle for all kinds of add-ins. I love to devour it warm from the oven, but it also tastes pretty good 2-3 days after baking. Of course, if you're doing it right, yours probably won't last that long!

P.S. The alcohol actually evaporates during baking, so if you're a good patient and are worried about medication interactions, you should be okay to indulge.

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  1. Chris loved the cheesy version of this! It was so quick and easy. I love that the top didn't sink when it cooled. (I have that problem with most of my baked goods.) We used an IPA for the beer. If I liked beer more I'm sure I would have appreciated that part. =P

    1. So glad it worked out for you - it's so easy, right? I'm always craving homebaked bread and I like the slight sweetness of this version. It always makes me happy to know people are trying my recipes :) Too bad we don't live closer or we could be baking together!

  2. We love homemade bread too! I might have to try the sweet version of this to see if I like it better. You know I'm like you guys, the sweeter, the better! :)
    I like trying out your recipes. It's always good to know you're a real person making these, not some crazy super chef that claims it's easy. =P
    How fun would it be to have a baking party? Maybe one day we'll live within a day's drive of each other. =P