Tender and lightly chewy, this fuss-free, one-bowl bread has the yeasty flavor of a risen loaf – and takes just 5 minutes to prep.
Every summer growing up, I went to camp in Maine. I made wonderful friends there, and several of those friendships are still going strong.
One winter, I got to visit my friend, Elliott, at her home in Kansas City. I remember details from that trip like it was yesterday.
While I was there, we made beer bread. I still have the index card with the original recipe, which called for self-rising flour. Over the years, I have adapted the recipe, swapping out the self-rise flour and incorporating an option for whole wheat flour.
The recipe is yeast-free and doesn’t call for kneading or rising, yet the fuss-free loaf is tasty. Plus, there’s something inherently satisfying about baking bread — even with a few shortcuts!
My family’s favorite way to enjoy a slice is toasted with a spread of strawberry jam. That said, beer bread is equally delicious with a bit of butter and served alongside soups, stews, and salads.
My kids have asked what would happen if I used root beer instead of regular beer. I go back and forth as to whether that might work (maybe with some raisins mixed in?) but haven’t tried.
It would be a fun experiment… If anyone beats me to it, please report back!
Note for those who require a gluten-free recipe: Breads are some of the most difficult recipes to replicate without reaching for a laundry list of alternate flours. Recently, however, I challenged myself to create a worthy loaf using the standard cup-for-cup flour replacement, and I was able to do it with one additional ingredient. The resulting loaf is a bit denser, but the crumb is good (not crumbly!), and it passed the test of several gluten-eating taste testers. See recipe notes for the modification.
- 1½ cups (190g) all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups (169g) whole wheat flour*
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 – 4 tablespoons (24-48g) packed brown sugar (may substitute honey)
- 1 (12-ounce) can or bottle beer, room temperature**
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) warm water
- 2 tablespoons (28g) melted butter, optional***
- Optional mix-ins: cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of dill or Italian herb blend; cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts or sunflower seeds; chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta.
Preheat oven to 350℉ and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. (If using honey, add with the beer and water.) Stir in add-ins, if using. (As a guideline, I use about a quarter cup of seeds, a third to a half cup of nuts, a half to a full cup of cheese, and/or one teaspoon of dried herbs.) Pour in the beer and water, and stir just until the flour mixture is all moistened. Spread the dough into the prepared loaf pan. (Tip: If time allows, let the batter sit for 15 to 20 minutes before baking. I find this slightly enhances the rise.)
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until just cooked through. (Helpful hint: To perfectly gauge doneness, the internal temperature should read 200℉ when taken with a quick-read thermometer.)
Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle the melted butter over the top, if using. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack and cool completely.
I love plain beer bread with a smear of butter and/or strawberry jam and toast the leftovers.
*You may replace the whole wheat flour with more all-purpose flour, or shift the ratios and use 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. Using all whole wheat will likely make the bread too dense.
When measuring flour, if not measuring by weight, be sure to fluff it up, scoop into measuring cups, and level with the straight edge of a knife. This will avoid compacting the flour and using too much, which will create a denser, drier bread.
**What’s the best beer to use? I usually use a lager (often Corona Light because it’s something we usually have on hand), but you can experiment with flavors, even using a hard cider. Just avoid IPAs or anything hoppy, as the hops tend to become bitter when cooked.
***While optional, the melted butter is a tasty finishing touch. The last time I made this bread, I used 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and that worked well too.
Food styling pro tip: For a lovely appearance, sprinkle a few pinches of oats over the top of the dough before baking.
Need a gluten-free bread? My best result to date has been using 3 cups (360g) of King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure gluten-free flour (if not measuring by weight, make sure to fluff it up, scoop into measuring cups, and level with the straight edge of a knife) and stirring 2 tablespoons psyllium seed husk into the dry ingredients. (This increases moisture and eliminates any crumbliness.) Psyllium seed husk increases the need for liquid, so I add ¼ cup warm water, plus the 2 tablespoons in the regular recipe, along with the beer. Make sure your beer is gluten-free. I use Corona Light, which contains less than 20 parts per million, which is the limit for a gluten-free product, although a certified GF beer or hard cider may be used.)
Recipe first posted May 23, 2012