Food and Drank all in one

Bread making has long been a skill I wish I had. Usually it seems to require one too many skills or ingredients or just a lot more patience than I possess. Not so with beer bread.

The bread, as I made it, requires only three real ingredients: 12 ounces of beer, self rising flour, and some sugar. The recipe also calls for melted butter, which I would highly recommend, but isn’t strictly speaking required. The instructions are even simpler: just mix everything together and bake for an hour at 375. There. Done. Couldn’t be easier.

The bread itself comes out with a nice crunchy, buttery crust if you dump melted butter over the dough as you put it in the oven. The overall flavor of the bread was described as “beer cake” by Anna Pickrell. This is due to the fourth cup of sugar I included. My dad’s recipe only calls for three tablespoons (which I looked up the conversion rate for and found is one less tablespoon than a fourth cup). There is certainly room to play around here and create sweeter breads or cut back on the sugar.

I used self-rising flour for the bread, which can be purchased in just about any grocery store. Self-rising flour comes pre-mixed with baking powder and salt, so you don’t have to measure out those ingredients. If you don’t have self-rising flour around though use three teaspoons baking powder and a teaspoon of salt for the three cups of flour. The real key here is to sift the flour before mixing. This keeps the bread from turning out like a brick. I don’t have a sifter at home, but I didn’t want to create an incredibly dense bread, so I scooped out my three cups of flour a spoonful at a time. Whatever it takes, just don’t pack down your flour.

As for the beer, any beer will do. When I was growing up, my dad would make this bread with leftover bottles that had been given to him but didn’t suit his tastes. I used a can of Surly Bitter Brewer because it was what we had after the senior Surly tour (thanks!). Partly, this was also because I really like the citrus flavors in that beer. You want to make sure that the beer you use is room temperature when you mix it with the flour and sugar in order to help the bread rise.

If you don’t have beer around I have heard tell of using non-alcoholic beverages successfully. You will probably want to add dry active yeast to the mixture to make sure the bread rises.

Beer Bread recipe:

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking soda (unless you use self-rising flour)

1 teaspoon salt (unless you use self-rising flour)

3-4 tablespoons sugar

12 ounces beer

¼ cup melted butter (this is optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ingredients together. Grease a loaf pan and gently spread the dough out into the pan. Bake for about an hour or until the top is golden brown. Let the bread cool for about 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven.