I’ve long been charmed by beer bread recipes. Mix a few ingredients with a can of beer and pop it in the oven for a quick, delicious loaf. It’s usually the first bread most people learn to make; a few ingredients, one bowl, super easy. The problem is, they rarely deliver on the delicious promise. There’s a particular mix that I’ve seen touted again and again and it’s just not good. There’s a weird chemical flavor that permeates each bite and I do not have time for that. Beer bread should be relatively easy to make, why not make one that tastes good? So I did. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I have a Guinness beer bread today, one made with whole grains and yes, some dark, delicious beer.
I’ve added a few more ingredients than the typical four or five, because it’s better that way and still just as easy. The recipe uses mostly whole wheat flour and I threw in some whole grains – oats, wheat berries and flax seeds for extra texture and nutrition. I’ve made this recipe with all sorts of grains I have in the house, once with rye berries and flakes as well as various multigrain cereals. It’s flexible like that and all versions were good. The liquid is a combination of buttermilk and Guinness stout, a rich dark beer, the tangy dark notes work particularly well with the nuttiness of the grains. There’s also a good bit of molasses for a nice rich flavor and a beautiful dark color similar to pumpernickel. If I have treacle hanging around, a mild form of British molasses, I’ll use that.
Since this is leavened with baking soda rather than yeast, the bread has a texture common to quick breads – softer and a more tender crumb than a traditional bread. Spread a slice with soft, salted butter and your afternoon snack is set though it’s even better with a slice of sharp cheddar. It’s more of a snacking bread, rather than one for traditional sandwiches, but it does make for a nice open faced ham sandwich and is very nice toasted.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: INHALE DEEPLY. A baking loaf of bread is the most intoxicating, relaxing scent possible. I’m convinced that if more people baked bread, or just baked in general, the world would be a happier place. This loaf in particular is a nice one to make – it’s and easy two-bowl recipe, is flexible enough to use what you might have on hand, holds well and is the most beautiful dark brown color. If the thought of working with yeast and rising times scares you a bit, start with this one. It’s a nice entry point.
Eight years ago: Khachpuri (cheesy Georgian bread)
Seven years ago: Wedding Cake Stories
Six years ago: Fresh Paczki (homemade fresh donuts)
Five years ago: Irish Oatmeal Pudding
Four years ago: Irish Whiskey Cakes
Three years ago: Chocolate Crème Filled Cupcakes
Two years ago: Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Last year: Gravlax (Cured Salmon)
GUINNESS QUICK BREAD
Makes 1 loaf
To cook wheat berries, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and let cool. Use any extras in soups, salads or as a side dish.
1 ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
¼ cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup buttermilk
6 Tablespoons old fashioned molasses (or treacle)
½ cup Guinness stout
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a standard 8 ½” x 4 ½” loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.
- Stir in the ¼ cup of oats, flax seeds and the cooked wheat berries.
- In a separate bow, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses and Guinness until blended.
- Switch to a rubber spatula and add to the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined (the dough will be very wet).
- Turn the batter into the greased pan loaf pan.
- Sprinkle the tops with 1 Tablespoon of oats.
- Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- The bread will keep, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for several days.