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It’s funny to think of how long I went without hearing about beer bread, especially since I enjoy beer and have long cooked with it: beer brats, beer can chicken, beer braised brisket.  When I finally did hear about it, I have to admit that I turned my nose up- while cooking with beer seemed like a great idea, baking with it?  My reaction was probably similar to the boyfriend’s last night, when he simply said, “Say what??”

And then I tried it.  All fears about bread that would taste like beer or have a funny aftertaste went out the window.  It was fantastic!  There may be a slight beer taste which remains, at least in the plain version, but it’s a welcome flavor, not the unpleasant interloper that I had expected.  Then, after a period of making it fairly frequently, I went for a while without making beer bread.  I still can’t explain that decision, but it’s back!  And just as delicious as I remembered- now it’s also gained the approval of the boyfriend and Jazz, the latter of whom enjoyed vacuuming up a couple of crumbs that fell as I sliced it.

This is a savory, cheesy version of the original beer bread recipe that I generally use, courtesy of Honest Fare.  I’ve also been wanting to try Rainy Day Gal’s Honey Beer Bread, so if you decide you like the idea and want to branch out let me know how it goes!  Since I was making this to go with soup, even though may not be the most dippable bread due to how tender it is, I wanted to be sure that it could stand on its own flavor-wise, and it did just that.

First I grabbed everything that I would need.   I am not an expert baker by any means, so I like to have everything right where I need it when baking.  I used mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and a Miller High Life that had been in my refrigerator far longer than I’d like to admit.

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Step two is to mix up the dry ingredients.  I typically use 2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour and 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour for beer bread, in an attempt to make this beer and cheese filled bread pass for healthy.  Once the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, add the beer and cheese, and mix only as much as is necessary to create a stiff dough.  Unfortunately there are no pictures of this process because I got carried away mixing and forgot to stop and take any.  Once the dough is formed, pour/scrape it into the prepared pan.  It will be sticky, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Next, melt three tablespoons of butter and pour them over the top of the batter.  I know that it seems excessive, and it completely negates the whole wheat flour substitution, but it makes for a delightfully crispy brown top.  It’s really worth it.

That’s it!  Now the bread goes into the oven for somewhere between 45 minutes and one hour- definitely keep an eye on it.  I’ve found that adding the cheese to the bread pushes up the baking time significantly (the original recipe from Honest Fare calls for 40 minutes, but also mentions that some types of beer can take up to 25 minutes more!).  You’ll know the beer bread is finished when a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.  If you find that the top is browning, but the center is still quite gooey, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top for a while, to prevent the top from burning while the bread continues to cook.

When the bread is finished, the top will be beautifully golden, and you won’t be able to keep yourself from a second helping.

Cheesy Beer Bread
Adapted from Honest Fare, February 2010: Beer Bread

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or other herbs of choice)
12 oz. beer
1 cup mozzarella cheese (or other cheese of choice)
3 tablespoons of butter

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

2. Mix flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and seasoning in a large bowl until well-combined (until whole wheat flour is indistinguishable).

3. Add the beer and mozzarella cheese and mix well.  Once batter is fully combined it should feel stiff– don’t over mix or it will be dense.  Pour into prepared pan.

4. Melt the butter and pour it over the top of the batter.

5. Bake bread in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour– the types of cheese and beer used may affect cooking time.  The bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  If top is browning too quickly and the bread is not done, remove and cover the pan with foil to prevent burning, then return to oven.

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