Our last six slices of bread went to comfort food today: Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches for lunch for my two kids and me. In all the planning and preparation for social distancing, I didn’t think much about bread as something necessary. I bought some — but not nearly enough.
Fruits and vegetables? Yup.
Proteins like chicken, ground beef and beans? Yup.
Eggs? You betcha.
But not bread.
And though I could make a good yeasted loaf, I wasn’t able to stock up on flour so we’re careful about where our all-purpose flour is going. There are still pancakes, cookies and treats to make. Fortunately, I have a cupboard full of other flours like cake flour.
I also have self-rising flour, a favorite of mine for making bread and bread-adjacent baked goods. So when someone at The Bangor Daily News mentioned that readers might need an easy bread recipe right now, I knew exactly what recipe I would share.
Also, I totally agreed. I am one of you.
Basic Beer Bread is a simple, quick and easy loaf that can be made in under an hour. Once cooked, it’s perfect for toasting, making sandwiches or transforming into French toast. Basically, if you’d use your typical loaf for something, this loaf can do it too.
The flavor in this bread comes primarily from the beer, so be sure to choose a variety that you enjoy. For instance, if you hate hoppy IPA beers, you probably won’t enjoy a hoppy beer bread either.
Of course, if you don’t want to (or can’t) use beer in the bread, that’s okay. You can still make it.
Any carbonated drink can be substituted — though do make smart decisions about the flavor the drink adds in. I caution against sweetened drinks like cola, specifically, unless you want sweet cola-flavored bread. That’s not my cup of tea — and I can’t imagine how it would work as a sandwich bread. That said, there are plenty of other options. Seltzer and club soda are both great, neutral carbonated drinks to make this. You won’t get the same flavor benefits you get with beer though so you will need to add some herbs, spices or other flavor enhancers to the mix. Amounts are flexible, but as a rule, I wouldn’t add any more than 1 teaspoon of each herb or spice and no more than 3 of them. For flavorful, non-beer options, you could substitute something like hard cider, sparkling wine or — if you are feeling particularly adventurous — champagne.
As you mix this, you only want to stir it a little bit, until the dry ingredients are just moistened. It will look lumpy — and that’s okay.
And, finally, while I am pretty confident that there are several of you out there with some self-rising flour in the cupboard too, don’t let it be a deterrent if you don’t have it. Instead, just use this simple substitution: combine 2 ⅔ cups of all purpose flour with 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ¾ teaspoon salt, and continue with the recipe as prescribed.
I hope you are all well and safe during this time of social distancing.
Basic Beer Bread
Yields 1 loaf
2 ⅔ cup self-rising flour
1 tsp salt
12 oz beer
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt with a rubber spatula. Add the beer and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Garlic Basil Beer Bread – Add 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1 teaspoon garlic powder at the same time as the salt.
Cinnamon Beer Bread – Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon at the same time as the salt. For a sweeter bread, use up to ¼ cup sugar.
Herbed Beer Bread – Add 1 teaspoon each of dried rosemary, basil and thyme at the same time as the salt.
Or try my recipe for Loaded Cheddar Bacon Beer Bread, which also has a lovely illustration by Eric Zelz.