Years ago, when my husband and I were dating, I loved nothing more than to have a little something baking in the oven when he came over. He was (is) a self-proclaimed carbaholic. If he weren’t at all worried about his health, he would love nothing more than to weigh in at a whopping 700lbs by eating bread, cookies, cakes and ice-cream. Thankfully, he is a pretty health-conscious guy so the occasional “tastes” are enough for him…..unless of course we’re on a vacation, or it’s the holidays, or it’s Friday…… ;o)
Now as I’ve mentioned in the past, I am NOT a baker. So when my roommates co-worker started selling Pampered Chef, I loved nothing more than to stock up on their beer bread mix. Fifteen minutes or so before Christian came over for dinner, I would open up a bottle of beer, stir it into the mix; bake it and viola, BEST.GIRLFRIEND.EVER! I never told him that it came from a box, and truth be told, he never asked.
Here we are, 14 years later and while I still love to surprise him from time to time with a freshly baked something, I’m no longer using the boxed stuff…but this recipe is pretty much just as easy and I get the satisfaction of making something from scratch for my family that only LOOKS like I must have spent all day baking. This Beer bread is CRAZY EASY, SOOO YUMMY and BONUS, with only 6 ingredients that you probably already have on hand, is the perfect side to compliment oh so many meals (like the Ham and Cheese Gnocchi recipe below – like a cozy hug on a plate!). When the weather is cold and rainy and you’re in need of some good ole’ fashioned comfort food, I hope you’ll give this one a try. Enjoy! Xoxo!
First things first…let’s get those ingredients ready:
All Purpose Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Sugar (just good ole’ fashioned sugar…not honey, or agave….just sugar…trust me on this, it changes the recipe if you deviate on this one), beer and a touch of butter. *** Regarding the beer, I’ve tried this with a LOT of beers, and I like a Belgian style beer (like Blue Moon) and I also like this with a German Styled Hefeweizen. Stouts and some of the darker/heavier beers tend to make this bread a little on the heavy/bitter side. But use what you have and play around with it. Gotta give a little shout out to the cutest Jesus, Mary and Joseph kitchen décor ever ☺
Alright, I should say that I measure my sugar just a little on the “heap” side. Feel free to use less, but I’ve made this a million times, and it’s the way that my family craves it best ☺
I have found that when I melt my butter in the microwave, it tends to separate. Maybe I’m doing it for too long…no idea, but this way is just as easy. Throw the 2TBS in a small skillet, put on a low flame, and once it’s almost melted completely and a little sizzley, take off the heat and set aside. Man Oh Man, does melted butter smell good!
Thankfully, my baking assistant LOVES to sift! I say thankfully, because I do not, but it really does make a difference! If you just plop all of the ingredients in the bowl, you tend to mix it a little longer which can make for a tougher loaf. The less you have to mix it, the lighter your bread will be.
I have NO idea what happened to my camera, but the pictures of when I added the beer got all boogered up! BHA! You want to have a whisk and a rubber spatula nearby, because this bit happens quickly. Add a room temp bottle of beer to the dry mixture, and immediately, whisk it to all to combine. It will get all puffy and foamy, but that will go away. As soon as it’s combined, bash out the whisk to get the dough that accumulated in the whisk, then use the spatula to finish up the mixing (DON’T over mix. As soon as it’s pretty well incorporated…stop!)
Pour the batter in a loaf pan that has been sprayed with a bit of PAM (do NOT pour the butter on yet). Put a damp paper towel over top, and set your timer on for 15 minutes and walk away. This is the time I take to tidy up my mess, add everything to the dishwasher, put stuff away etc…
After 15 minutes, remove the paper towel and you’ll see that it’s poofed up a little and looks all spongy. Now you’ll want to pour over the melted butter. If it’s gotten too cold to pour, just turn on the burner for a few seconds to re-melt. Please don’t skip this part…yes it’s butter, but it’s 2 TBS in the entire loaf, and it adds so much in terms of flavor and texture and getting that awesome crust on top. Trust me, I’ve tried everything, and this is by far the best way.
Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, or until deliciously golden brown. I always bake on my convection setting, and it took 33 minutes to get to this…
Immediately remove from pan, and let cool for at least 10 (pref 15 minutes) on a wire rack. ENJOY!!!
I LOVE making this with Bacon and Cheese Gnocchi. It’s a recipe my family loves that I found on a fun blog called Kevin & Amanda. I added the recipe below, and then my changes in (parenthesis). Click on the name below for step by step instructions (the way they format is pretty similar to the way I would do it, so I figured, why re-invent the wheel on this one ;op). Easy peasy lemon squeesy and I’m telling you, your family will be SOOO excited about dinner tonight! Add a crunchy salad with a tangy vinaigrette and dinner is served!
P.S. For timing purposes, this is how I do it:
1. Pre-heat the oven while you prepare the Beer Bread.
2. Once the beer bread is set aside “proofing”, clean up and get everything ready to make the Gnocchi (chop the bacon, and the onion etc…) and pour yourself a glass of wine…ok fine, pour your second glass of wine (hee hee).
3. Bake the bread, but hold off on cooking the Gnochi just yet. While the bread is baking, you can prepare your salad.
4. Take the Bread out of the oven and while it cools on the wire rack, set your oven to BROIL, while you prepare your Gnocchi.
1 TBS butter (I don’t use oil since I cook my onions in a the same pan as I cooked the bacon)
2 C diced onion (about 1 yellow onion)
12 oz ham, diced (I use bacon instead and boy oh boy is it ever yummy!!!)
½ C low-sodium chicken broth
¾ C water
1 (16 oz) package potato gnocchi (don’t use the tiny gnocchi, it gets all gummy)
1 C baby sweet peas, frozen (I don’t measure this, I just do a couple of handfuls. I’ve also added a chopped tomato with the peas because I had one on hand, and it was a very yummy addition!)
¼ C heavy cream (I use fat-free half and half or evaporated milk that I added ¼ tsp cornstarch too)
salt and pepper to taste
1 C shredded cheese (Mozzarella is too bland for this, you’ll want to use Swiss, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, or I really like the Sargento low-fat Italian blend – and BONUS, it’s almost always on sale at Harris Teeter)
Step 1: Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the onions and cook until softened and golden brown.
Step 2: Add the ham and continue to cook until lightly browned.
OR if you’re making with bacon, Skip step 1 and two and instead, simply fry up a few slices of cut bacon, and remove the cooked bacon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Remove all but 2 TBS of the bacon dripping, and cook your onions until softened and golden brown. Move on to step three ☺
Step 3: Add the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer (I bring it to a boil for a minute then immediately turn down to a simmer). Add the gnocchi, stir well, and cover and cook for 5 minutes until the gnocchi is tender. Stir in the peas, cream, (reserved bacon if using bacon) and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Enjoy!!