Ale Bread – The Resurrection – the Ultimate Ale Bread Recipe

ale-bread-2

I had originally meant to title this post “Ale Bread Part Deux”, but I really didn’t want to make it into any kind of a tribute to Charlie Sheen. (Not that I have anything against Charlie, mind you!)If you’ve been keeping up with this blog over the last year, you’ll know that baking is one of my biggest fears and is something I usually leave to my wife, who excels at it. I have however, been prodded repeatedly by several people to “bite the bullet and bake us up something fab to drool over”My last attempt at this resulted in something less than what I expected, even after several goes at it. It was enough to send me away from the baking cupboard in shame for quite some time, with every intention never to slink back to realms in which I obviously do not belong.The problem is, I’m a bit stubborn. Since June, I’ve been wondering what went wrong. I’ve been asking myself what part of the recipe I failed to follow, or whether it was just an innate inability to be precise enough to actually manage the task of baking. Generally I’m a cook. I add or subtract ingredients based on smells, textures and taste at will. You just can’t do that when you’re baking.

It took me 133 days to get up the nerve to face the dough, which had failed so completely to be dough-like on my last attempt that I described it at the time by saying:

“…And still the dough stuck to hands, mixer parts and floured counter tops like a living thing fighting for its life.”

But in the end, I beat the bloody thing…

In the days since june, I’ve occasionally searched for other recipes. For the most part, I found the same recipe repeated, but then I came across this post at Farmgirl Fare, and when I compared it to a comment left on my original post, I realized where everything had gone wrong!

For one thing, the recipe I had didn’t call for enough flour. The ones I was finding now called for an additional cup. Secondly the first recipe we’d tried didn’t call for any sugar, which meant the yeast in the beer didn’t have anything to munch on. No yeast growth, no rise, I had to try this again!

And it was good.

Ale Bread - The Resurrection - the Ultimate Ale Bread Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Bread mix:
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp.sugar
  • 1 good pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 bunch finely chopped scallions
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 12 oz. beer (I used Shiner bock, a dark German beer)
Glaze (optional):
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. water
Method
Glaze:
  1. Whisk egg and water until frothy in a small mixing bowl.
Bread:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, scallions and cheese in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Slowly mix in beer and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8? loaf pan, brush with glaze if desired. Sprinkle with a bit of shredded cheese.
  2. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  3. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. turn out onto rack, place top side up and allow to cool completely. Reheat if desired before serving.

What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:

This post is dedicated to Lis, at la Mia Cucina, who prodded me into baking in the first place. The bread was fabulous, and will be my first choice whenever I make soups or stews from now on. It’s dense, flavorful and oh-so-yummy that it nearly made me want to cry.

I’m not going to try to improve on perfection.

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Comments

  1. Jerry says

    tommeiea,
    Grown man, veteran, father of six, and I really wanna try this bread with a good soup! It’s utterly fantastic.

  2. says

    I’ve been making beer bread for a few years now, and I have found that my favorite is any German Schwartzbier, but Modelo Negro, a Mexican dark beer, adds good flavor as does Samual Adams Black Lager.

  3. Mke Hungerford says

    Thoughts: This would work best with an unpasteurized beer, and a bit of time allowed to pass between mixing and baking for the yeast to have its way with the sugar.

    Gotta stop at the market for some scallions. :-)

  4. Mike Hungerford says

    Huh. My prior comment disappeared. Ah, well; my first attempt at your bread is now in the oven. I discovered a few things in the process: I need a bigger mixing bowl; the best way to get the chopped scallions and shredded cheese mixed into the dry stuff is with my fingers, rather like making soda bread; my baking powder passed its “best before” date about three years ago, so my fingers are crossed; I need to have more than one loaf pan.

    Oh, and I used a bottle of Lagunitas “Censored” ale; the dough smells wonderful. :-)

  5. Jerry says

    Mike,
    New Commentators need to be approved before they’re posted. I hope you don’t mind. I hope you love the bread. I know I did!

  6. Mike Hungerford says

    Thanks, Jerry; had I been paying attention, I would have seen the “held for moderation” notice.

    Bread’s almost ready; at 45 minutes it was still sticky in the middle (I used a bamboo skewer in lieu of a toothpick, which would have been too short). Looks great, and smells incredible!

  7. Mike Hungerford says

    And it was good.

    I see lots of possibilities with this recipe; my next attempt will use feta cheese (it needed a bit more salt) and caramelized onion, and a maltier ale.

  8. Jerry says

    Mike,
    If you go with the feta, let me know how it turns out. I’m a complete sucker for both feta and goat cheese.

  9. Jerry says

    Brian,
    I’m a Texan myself (Though not by birth.) Shiner is available country-wide. If you want to go truly Texan, use Ziegen Bock

  10. Brian says

    Great recipe! Awesome flavor and texture. I am compelled to point out that while Shiner Bock may be a German-style beer made by the offspring of German immigrants, it is a Texas beer! :) Sorry, I had to point that out – I’m Texan, and S.B. is one of my favorite beers. ;)

  11. Tracy says

    Could you provide ratios for if one wanted to use some whole wheat flour in this recipe?
    Thanks

  12. says

    Tracy,
    There shouldn’t be any adjustments, but if there were, perhaps just bit more liquid in the initial batter?

  13. Anthony from AZ says

    Wow. this recipe sounds so good! i got a cheesey beer bread mix (in a beer bottle) for christmas and i decided to try my favorite ale, arrogant bastard, and it got thumbs up from coworkers too. though a fair word of warning, if you don’t like the beer/ale you wont like the bread. and it goes so well with anything that falls in the savory department. especially beef/lamb stews.

  14. says

    Just made this tonight with a lingering bottle of Christmas Ale. Used caraway and French Fine Herbs instead of scallions. If you could smell my kitchen, oh my! It is divine, easy, and makes me feel brilliant. THANK you.

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