“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!”- James Beard
Some people have a sweet tooth, but I am not one of those people. My food cravings are almost always savory. My number one food craving? Bread. Good bread. Good bread of the crusty variety isn’t so easy to make at home. It involves starters and mothers and time and kneading and patience and skill, etc. But crusty bread isn’t the only kind of good bread, IMHO. There are other kinds of bread that are deeply delicious. And sometimes, they involve beer…
I found this recipe on the internet a number of years ago, and it was an instant love affair. I’ve made it on a sailboat. I’ve made it in Finland. I’ve made it on Cape Cod. I make this bread here, there and everywhere. It’s very Seussian of me. What do I love about this recipe? Many, many things. It involves no rising and no kneading. It only takes one hour. It only calls for 5 ingredients, a mixing bowl and a skillet. It’s practically magic.
Considering that the recipe is called Beer Bread, the ingredient that singularly will determine how the bread tastes is the beer that you use. Malty? hoppy? sour? rich? It’s up to you. You can definitely make this with Bud or Pabst or Natty Boh or some other crap beer (no judgement!) but if what you happen to have lying around is a bit more nuanced, then your bread will be too. Some of my favorite variations are Innis and Gunn, and Vielle Artisan Saison (sour beer).
Yield: 1 loaf
Equipment: 1 large mixing bowl, 1 8-inch skillet
3 ½ cups flour
1 beer (11.5 ounces is standard size for a bottle of beer)
1 tablespoon salt, plus a pinch for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1.Mix-.Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put all dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add in beer and 1 tablespoon butter. Use your hand to mix all ingredients together by starting in the center and stirring outwards in concentric circles. The dough will come together quickly to form a shaggy mass- three or four turns should do it.
2.Shape dough into a round and transfer to skillet. It should look like this:
3.Bake bread for 20-25 minutes, or until nicely browned. If the bread hasn’t browned, keep cooking it for a few minutes, once you lower the temperature it won’t get much darker. Lower temperature to 325 degrees and cook another 25 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with remaining butter and finish with a pinch of salt.
The Taste- While this bread isn’t crusty, it is crunchy outside and dense and chewy inside. I find the contrast in textures extremely satisfying. As I mentioned earlier, the taste will largely be determined by the beer that you choose. You pretty much can’t go wrong, though. I used Innis and Gunn for this batch and it lent a really nice yeasty caramelly flavor to the bread. So good…drool….
The Process- It almost couldn’t be easier. Don’t overwork the dough (it will make the bread tough) and make sure the oven is good and hot (not hot= no golden crunchy top).
The Verdict- This is a winner. It’s a crowd pleaser. It’s great to make with kids. Like most bread, it’s at its very best fresh from the oven, but you can certainly make it a few hours before serving or even toast it the next day