Perfect when you need a tasty loaf in a hurry
Baking bread doesn’t get much easier (or more fun) than this. No messing with yeast, no kneading, no rising time.
And you get to use beer in it! So this bread smells delightful when baking—and tastes deeply delicious when you bite into it.
Even people who don’t like beer love Beer Bread. Best of all, this bread is equally tasty for breakfast toast or a mid-day sandwich.
Really, can life get any better?
Many quick breads get their rising action from baking powder, not yeast. And that’s how this recipe works.
Although beer is made with yeast, most commercial beers don’t contain living yeast organisms (many commercial beers are pasteurized, which kills yeast cells; even when they’re not, the yeast generally is filtered out before bottling). So it’s not yeast from the beer that makes this bread rise. Instead, the beer is there to provide carbonation (which helps fluff up the bread) and lots of flavor. The beer you select does make a difference in the final product: a light-bodied beer will produce a bread with a lighter flavor than, say, a dark beer or stout.
In the past, I’ve baked plenty of bread, but nowadays Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the bread baker in our household. She adapted this recipe from one a relative gave her years ago, with help from the Internet.
Mixing time for this recipe is about 5 to 10 minutes, baking time about one hour. So you can be eating this bread in under 1½ hours.
The recipe as written yields one loaf, though you can scale it up. (I guess you could scale it down too—but trust me, you won’t want to.)
Beer bread will stay fresh for a few days when stored at room temperature in a sealed plastic bag. Or freeze it if you intend to store it longer (see Notes for tips on freezing).
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (see Notes)
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 12 ounces beer
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (375 F if using a metal pan). Grease a standard loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inches). You may also want to cut out a piece of parchment paper so it fits the bottom of the pan, and line the bottom with that (to make bread removal easier).
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix for at least 30 seconds to make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Pour beer over the flour mixture. Using a spatula, mix with a gentle folding action until well blended (with no dry patches remaining). Do not over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
- Melt butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds) and pour it over the bread batter.
- Place the bread pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for one hour, or until interior measures about 200 degrees F (see Notes).
- Remove bread from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn it out of the pan and let it finish cooling on a wire rack (it tends to crumble if you cut it while still warm). Eat and enjoy.
- We prefer unbleached flour, and are partial to the King Arthur brand. But any decent all-purpose white flour should work fine in this recipe.
- For a heartier (and healthier) bread, you can substitute whole-wheat flour for up to one cup of all-purpose white flour.
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.” It’s called double-acting because you get a first reaction (the bubbles that help cause dough to rise) when you mix the powder with wet ingredients, then a second reaction when the dough hits the heat of the oven.
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. I usually replace mine once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so I remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually corn starch) to provide bulk.
- If you don't have Kosher salt on hand, you can use plain table salt (though I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher).
- If this bread is too sweet for your taste, you can reduce or even eliminate the sugar. Or substitute honey.
- You can use just about any beer for this recipe—though as mentioned in the recipe headnote, the type you choose will affect the taste of the bread.
- Most of the alcohol in beer evaporates during baking—though not necessarily all. Wikipedia provides a handy chart showing how much alcohol remains after various cooking procedures. If you’d like to read more about the original study on which the Wikipedia article was based (and you have access to technical journals), check out “Alcohol retention in food preparation,” by Jorg Augustin, Evelyn Augustin, Rena L. Cutrufelli, Steven R. Hagen, & Charlene Teitzel, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April 1992, volume 92, number 4, page 486(3).
- If you want to make a totally non-alcoholic version of this bread, you can substitute a carbonated drink (such as plain seltzer) for beer. But this will—of course—change the flavor.
- You can dress this bread up with almost any flavoring that appeals to you. Popular additions include grated cheese, garlic, and herbs (such as dill).
- An instant-read thermometer is perfect for checking the internal temperature of almost anything you bake or cook. Most of the ones you can buy are accurate, although some may take 10 or 15 seconds to accurately record temperatures. My favorite instant-read thermometer is the Thermapen. These are accurate to less than 1 degree F, and take a reading in 3 seconds or less. The downside? They’re pricey (about $90 or so). But they’re worth it.
- When freezing this bread, we slice it first (because slicing frozen bread can be like sawing through a rock). We also place small squares of parchment paper between the slices to prevent them from freezing together. We double wrap the sliced bread before freezing (put it in a plastic bag, and then into a freezer bag). When ready to use, we just pull out as many slices as we want.
- Slicing this bread is easiest with a serrated bread knife or an electric knife.
Roll Out the Barrel
“Well, I’d call this the perfect food,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, picking up a hunk of Beer Bread.
“They do say bread is the staff of life,” I replied, biting into a slice.
“And this one contains all four major food groups—salt, fat, sugar, and alcohol,” said Mrs. K R.
That’s my kind of whole food.
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