Beer Cheese Bread

Here’s the funny thing – I don’t really like most beer – it takes a thick, dark, rich beer to even begin to pique my interest, and then I love to top it with a shake of salt just as an Irishwoman taught me when I was in my twenties. Try it – it’s heaven!

Beer Cheese Bread...wait till it cools? huh?
Beer Cheese Bread…wait till it cools? huh?

But Beer Cheese Bread – what’s not to love?  It’s another kind of heaven. A little sharp, a little sweet, just a little cheesy, moist and hearty.

The fact that it’s super easy and a great way to use up (dare I say it?  Most people probably don’t have this problem…) beer left over from a get together makes it even nearer and dearer to my heart.  I’ve even been known to stash my beer rather than drink it just so I have one to make this bread!

In its basic form (light beer, white flour) it’s great, but this simple little quick bread can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.  Think out of the box with this one:  you’re not limited to a Pilsner or basic cheddar and this bread just calls out for additions and tweaks. I prefer to use the larger grate for the cheese, which leaves distinct bits. A finer grate will disappear into the bread.

Not a baker?  Rock this out with self rising flour – you’ll have it mixed in five minutes and ready for the oven – and friends and family will be impressed…you made this?  Piece of cake…well, bread…

If you’re open to the sublime and a little experimentation, keep reading for some of my favorite combinations. The basic recipe will run about two bucks with careful shopping, but of course, the cost varies with different beers and cheeses.

Basic Beer Cheese Bread, makes one large loaf (12 thick slices) or two smaller.

  • 3 cups of self rising flour (or use 3 cups all-purpose flour + one tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder plus 1 ½ teaspoon salt) see substitutions
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar (four ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (divided 1/2 in batter, one half over the top after 15 minutes baking)
  • 12 ounces of beer

Note: Do all mixing by hand.

Place self rising flour (or substitution) in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar and cheese, stir together.  Add half the butter and beer and mix.  Place in a greased bread pan, bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  After about 15 minutes of baking, drizzle the top with the remaining butter.

This bread doesn’t really brown – you’ll know it’s done when it’s pulling away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted near the center comes away with a bit of crumb rather than batter.  Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

If you’re baking this in smaller pans, you’ll need to reduce the amount of cooking time.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Cheeses:  You can really use any cheeses you like, and combinations are great.  You can even sprinkle the top with a cheese if you desire, when you add the butter to the top.  I like a course grate on the cheese so it’s visible, but a fine grate melts in completely.  Small chunks make little pockets of cheese.  This bread can take a lot of cheese if you want to add more than called for.
  • Flours:  A substitution of different flours for part (usually 1/3 cup to a cup) of the all purpose can enhance the different flavors you might want to add in.  Don’t use  the self rising flour if you go this route.
  • Eggs or Sour Cream:  If you want a richer, more substantial crumb, add an egg to the batter, and sour cream, about a half a cup, makes a tangy, rich addition.
  • Other additions:  sliced green onions or chives are a good addition.
  • Or a deletion:  skip the cheese and just use sour cream for a breakfast bread.
  • Irish Beer Bread:  Try using Guinness for the beer and a combination of cheddar and Dubliner cheese. Up your cheese to two cups, use the egg and sour cream and a little granulated garlic, say 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Welsh:  Think Rarebit:  Use a beer of your choice, and add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard or two teaspoons of dijon or whole grain, about 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, a dash of hot sauce, and more cheese.  Cracked black pepper is good in this.
  • Italian:  Try some Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil instead of butter, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, roasted garlic or garlic powder.  Go with a basic beer so you don’t overpower the additions.
  • Belgium:  Think Carbonnade:  Use a good Belgium beer – Chimay, made by Trappist monks – even I like that beer!  Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese, delicate carmelized onions threaded throughout makes a stunning combination.  1/3 to 1/2 cup of dark flour like a dark rye gives this huge taste.  A bit of mustard and black pepper couldn’t be wrong here.
  • Mexican:  Dos Equis or Tecate beer with pepper jack cheese or Colby Jack or a combination of the so many Mexican cheeses available with a green chile (mild) or jalapeno (a little hotter) finely minced added in.  Maybe a little corn meal would be good in this.
  • Use your imagination:  It’s always hard to go wrong using the flavors you and your family loves!  I haven’t made a Greek version with feta, or used any blue cheese in this, but I’m thinking about it now…
  • I’m wondering now how this bread would be heated up on the grill or in a panini….hmmm

Money & Time Saving Strategies:

  • Baking Items:  Try to stock up around Holidays when you find the lowest prices.
  • Butter:  Again, buy a lot during Holiday specials and freeze.
  • Beer:  Well, it goes without saying, the best beer specials are during any Holiday!
  • Cheese:  The basic grocery store cheeses are always on sale. Know the low prices in your area and stock up then.  You can freeze some of these, but they aren’t good for eating, just recipes, as they tend to become crumbly.  Their perfect in a recipe like this.
  •  The cheeses I call “near” deli often have coupons available on hang tags, and sometimes the cheese isn’t on sale then.  I pick up a few and wait for the sale – the coupons generally have an expiration date months ahead, and when the cheese is on sale, there often aren’t coupons out.  Producer’s websites have coupons to print now and then.

Nutrition:  (based on 12 slices)  Cal 201; Cal fr Fat:  35%; tot fat:  7.98g;  sat fat:  4g; chol:  17mg;  sod 555mg; tot carb 26.95g;  fib 1.05g;  sug:  3.33g; prot 4.95g.

recipe made June 2012

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