I’m not a beer drinker. I’ve dashed my husband’s hopes more times than I can count. Each time he has a new kind of beer I’ll say, “Can I try it?” and he’ll hand me the glass/can/bottle, and I can see the hope in his eyes. “Maybe, just maybe,” he thinks, “this will be the one!” And I hope it will be too. But then I taste it, and the inevitable gag and “Blech! Ickh! Hubadahubada” ensues. I can’t help it. I just don’t like beer. I keep hoping that maybe some day I’ll learn to like it, the way I learned to like coffee, and beets. That switch will go on, and I’ll take a sip of that cool, frothy beer and think, “Refreshing,” instead of “Why on earth would someone want to drink this?!?”
So when I see recipes like this one, or this one, I get really excited. I have this idea that I can teach myself to like beer by sneaking it in when I’ll hardly notice. It’s not like I want to drink beer all the time, but it would be nice to be able to sip on a beer when we’re at a bbq or out with friends. The problem with that plan though, is that with most of those recipes, you can’t actually taste the beer.
That’s where beer bread comes in. I ran across this simple recipe at Casual Kitchen, and it seems to be the perfect solution. I can definitely taste the hops, but there’s enough of the bread flavor and texture that it cuts out the “hubadahubada.” (And the blech and ickh for that matter.)
The best part about this recipe is that it’s so open to interpretation. The kind of beer you use has the possibility of drastically changing the flavor. For instance: I used the Ranger IPA, which has a pretty intense hopp-y flavor, but you could easily use a light beer to decrease the intensity, or a stout or lager to darken the flavor. (Just please don’t use PBR. Set some standards, folks. Even as a non-beer drinker I know that stuff is bad.)
For my version, I pretty much followed the recommended extras and added some dill and cayenne. For kicks, I also chopped about 1/2 cup of red onion and threw that in. I meant to add garlic, but I totally forgot! See, here’s one of those moments where you can learn from my mistakes. I also found that the 1/2 tsp of cayenne got lost in the Ranger IPA, so I’ll add a bit more the next time I make this recipe. I’m guessing that a different beer would affect that quite a bit. Dan at Casual Kitchen has some great suggestions and tips on this one, so be sure to read his whole post before you start your process.
The final verdict? My son didn’t like it (which is fine by me), my husband really liked it (which is awesome) and I really enjoyed it and would totally make it again. Since there was no rising time and no heavy kneading involved, I threw this together in no time at all. In fact, if I hadn’t stopped to take pictures during the process, I’m guessing that from chopping the onions to bread in the oven would have taken about 15 minutes or less.
Since I did stop to take pictures though, let me present them to you for your enjoyment:
One last note before I send you into the kitchen. You’ll notice that I used white flour for this recipe. At Dan’s suggestion, I did the “Cookin by the book” the first time around, just to see how it all went together (You know you can’t go crazy). Next time though, I will definitely be using whole wheat flour. It will give it a much heartier texture, and be amazing served with some chili!
Until next time!
Update: I did go back and make this bread with whole wheat flour. I also added a bit more cayenne, and tried a different, less hoppy beer. The verdict? AMAZING!! Not as hearty as I was expecting, but perfectly moist and savory.