Monday 18 August 2008

WTSIM ... Beer Bread

I was going to call this beer bread the easiest bread in the world, until I remembered that Australia has damper which at its simplest is flour and water. I have written before on childhood memories of damper which my mum cooked in the ashes of the barbeque. But beer imparts so much more flavour that I did wonder why our swaggies weren’t traditionally pouring beer into their flour instead of water or milk. But then I reasoned that they probably weren’t going to waste beer in a bread, if they had it.

Thinking about how beer bread is so easy, I thought it would be great for a Johanna at the Passionate Cook who is hosting this month’s Waiter There’s Something in My … because the theme is picnic basket. While I like to eat good food at picnics, I like simplicity of preparation when eating in the great outdoors away from the mod cons of the kitchen. The bread is easy enough to whip up the morning of a picnic and would tastes fantastic fresh served with some dips or cheese. But, if it is not picnic weather, it will keep a few days and toast up a treat.

I have had this recipe for more years than I care to admit. One of my friends worked in a café in Carlton as a student and passed it on to me. I think Tania was the café owner but it is too long ago to remember if she served the beer bread in the café – I think she did! She should have because it is far more impressive than the effort required would suggest. The magic of this bread is the yeasty smell, thick crust and great texture. This bread doesn’t crumble and collapse. It is soft and fluffy but sturdy enough to toast.

Mine was a tad sweet. The sweetness could be that the page in my recipe book was smudged where the sugar measurement was given so a little guess work was required – the joys of old recipes (1 tbsp was too much for me)! But I guess the sugar feeds the yeast in the beer. There is no specification of what sort of beer in my recipe. I used a local lager, Victoria Bitter, and have decided this bread is probably better with a light lager after using stout in Oatmeal Beer Bread recently (which is a different sort of bread that requires waiting for yeast to rise).

There are lots of variations on this bread. My recipe suggests that you could grate cheese on top before baking. Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs gives a wheat free (but not gluten free) recipe using spelt and dresses her bread up with herbs, olives and sun dried tomatoes. I have another beer bread recipe with bran and other flours. You could add other flavours but I like it simple.

I dug the recipe out the other day to serve with some soup when I was having a bread crisis. Thankfully the crisis is over and good bread has returned to my life (after too long of not being able to get organised to buy bread anywhere but the supermarket) but I am determined to remember to make this bread occasionally because it is just so good and so easy.

Tania’s beer bread
Makes 1 loaf

3 cups self raising flour
1 can/stubby (375ml) lager
Pinch salt
1 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Scrape into greased and lined loaf tin (my loaf tin is about 21 x 13 cm). Don't worry too much about smoothing the top - this can be rustic and uneven. Baked at 220 C for about 50 minutes or til skewer comes out cleanly.

On the stereo:
Ultramix 78: This is Post Punk (Simon Reynolds, São Paulo, 2005) – various artists


  1. You have combined two of my favorite things - beer and bread! Unfortunately, I can't eat much of either of them as I am a bit wheat intolerant but I am loving ogling!

  2. This does sound like perfect picnic food! I'm surprised you found it sweet with just 1 Tbsp. of sugar (I think my recipe has about the same amount)--but then again, I don't usually find anything too sweet!

  3. I love this idea and keep meaning to try it. It sounds so brilliantly easy! The simplest picnics are always the best, aren't they?

    I really liked your tart in the previous post, too - somehow got distracted from leaving a comment :)

  4. I just don't think that you see the word 'stubby' used enough in cooking!

    I've been having a bit of a bread crisis too of late. Wendy's recent cottage cheese one is delicious, but I don't always have cottage cheese around. There is, however, always a stubby of beer or two.


  5. Wow this looks like the easiest bread ever! Though I wonder how well it would work with whole wheat flour...

  6. This looks great. I have been meaning to try beer bread for ages. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. thanks Helen - funny you say that as I was talking with my mum about if it would work with Gluten Free beer and flour - would be interested to hear if you ever try it with spelt

    thanks Ricki - it just had that sweet edge like I had put it on a plate that had toast and honey on it rather than being a sweet bread - I am not a fan of very sweet food esp when it comes to savoury

    thanks Lysy - yes I like simple food for picnics - doesn't mean you can't have quality but it means you can relax!

    thanks Lucy - I love the word stubby - it is a cute sort of Winnie the Pooh word isn't it? Wish I could say there was always a stubby in my house - I felt I looked a bit of a lone drinker buying one stubby from the bottle shop (although E and I sometimes share a stubby as we are not huge drinkers)

    thanks Ashley - I was wondering the same thing about wholewheat flour and I think I put some in the mix but didn't feel brave enough to make it all whole wheat - will be interested to hear if you do try

    thanks Katie - hope you get to try it as it is such a ridiculously easy bread

  8. Well done, Johanna. It looks lovely!

  9. This bread looks terribly delicious!! And so quick to made. My only problem is that we don't have any self-raising flour here (Hungary). How much baking powder should I use for the recipe?

  10. Thanks Nicki - it is two teaspoons baking powder to each cup of flour - it is a pain trying to work across different regional measuring systems - I think I try and translate sometimes and forget or am in a hurry others - hope your bread goes well

  11. Thanks, I'm sure I'll try this bread (among many other things from your site :-)


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