A variety of beers from malts to ales to stouts work perfectly in your bread machine in many bread recipes.
Beer and bread were a staple of many diets and traditions going back to ancient Egypt. Adding bread as an ingredient was also popular and even the Pilgrims in the U.S. were known to mix this combination to make the bread more nutritious.
A key thing to remember is that any beer added to a bread recipe should be added both flat and warm. It’s tempting to think that the bubbles will help with rising but it’s not the case. The yeast will do the job of making the bread rise, and they also prefer warm liquid temperatures. You can do this by pouring the beer into a sauce pan and heating it briefly. You could also just let it sit in a bowl for a couple of hours or microwave a cup or more for 40 seconds after the beer is flat. Just make sure you don’t add it to the bread pan when it’s too hot. 110°F./43°C. is the ideal temperature for the best yeast growth. If it’s too far above that temperature you may kill the yeast.
The type of beer you add to a bread recipe is up to you. Some people like to add their favorite beer while others look toward more exotic styles like a stout or creamy malt or a nut brown ale. You usually don’t add more than 12 ounces of beer to any recipe and this varies depending on the size of the loaf.
Sometimes the beer will add color to the baked loaf. A dark stout will give you a warm brown colored loaf, while a light ale will appear mostly white. The alcohol cooks off while baking, and the flavor of the beer in the bread ranges from subtle with the richer brews, to faint with the lighter ales.
Wheat is often added to white bread flour in many beer bread recipes. If you don’t have wheat flour or don’t like it, you can simply substitute more bread flour for the wheat flour.
With all of that in mind, here are 3 beer bread recipes you can try. They’re fairly straightforward and you should achieve good results. As always, measure precisely and whenever possible try to use bread flour and bread machine yeast unless the recipe indicates otherwise.
A Basic White – Beer Bread Recipe:
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
If this is your first foray into beer bread baking you might want to start with this recipe.
- 1 1⁄8 cups beer (9 ounces and you can choose your favorite beer)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1⁄2cups bread flour
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3⁄4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Pour beer into a bowl and let stand at room temperature for a few hours to go flat, or pour into a bread pan and simmer gently for a couple of minutes but make sure it cools to 110°F./43°C. before adding to the bread pan. Place all ingredients in the pan according to the list in this recipe unless your manufacturer recommends a different order. (The reason some manufacturers recommend a different order is because some machines have a preheat setting that proofs this yeast. This is somewhat rare, but if your manufacturer identifies a different order of ingredients your best to follow those directions.) Set crust on dark and program for the Basic White cycle for a 1.5 pound loaf. Press Start. When the baking cycle ends, immediately remove the bread from the pan and place it on a rack to cool.
Whole Wheat Bread with Dark Beer
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
This is a robust bread with a malty sweetness that goes great with sausages, beef or dishes with a robust or creamy gravy or sauce. It also makes a great sandwich with corned beef or pastrami or other flavorful cold cuts like salami. It stands up well as a complement to the strongest mustards or horseradish and is also great with soups and stews.
- 1cup dark beer plus 2 tablespoons of dark beer (stout, bock or other dark beer.
- Make sure the beer is flat and warm ideally to 110°F./43°C.)
- 1 tablespoon butter cut in half and placed in opposite corners of the pan.
- 2 1⁄4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 tablespoons honey or 2 tablespoons dark molasses
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast or 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
Add all ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed in the recipe unless your manufacturer identifies a different order of ingredients. Set the bread machine for the Whole Wheat cycle, 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust. When done, remove loaf from pan and let rest on a cooling rack. Slice and serve.
Cheese and Beer Bread Recipe:
(Makes a 1.5 pound loaf)
This is a great bread for a cold, rainy day. It’s full-bodied and robust and packed with flavor. You can choose the beer you prefer, but I find that a malty ale or a light lager goes well with this recipe. You can also choose the cheese you like, just make sure you stay true to the amount of cheese indicated in the recipe. I’ve tried this recipe with a blend of mozzarella and muenster cheese, and had good results with pepper-jack cheese and blue cheese.
- 10 ounces beer, at room temperature
- 4 ounces shredded or diced cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces shredded or diced Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature divided into opposing corners of the bread pan
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
On stovetop or in microwave, heat beer and cheese together until just warm. Cheese doesn’t have to melt. Stir to blend and then pour the mixture in the bread pan. Once again, let it cool to 110°F./43°C. Add remaining ingredients in the order listed in the recipe unless your manufacturer recommends a different order. Select Basic White setting, 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust. Push start. When done, remove the loaf from the bread pan and let cool on a cooling rack and serve.
If you’ve had any experience with bread machine recipes you can see from these 3 recipes that the beer is simply replacing the water or water and milk combination that is commonly used in most recipes. There’s also a bit less yeast than you common see, but that’s because the beer makes a great medium for the yeast to grown and some beers add some yeast to the mix. If you have trouble with rising either try an equal proportion of Rapid Rise yeast or add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of yeast. Omitting the salt also helps yeast activity. The hope is you will have success the first time and you should, but baking is more alchemy than science.
Over time you can experiment with other bread varieties by simply substituting the beer for the water or other liquid that the recipe indicates. Varieties of bread that particularly lend themselves to the addition of beer are Rye Bread, French Baguettes, Pretzel Bread and Soft Pretzels. Once you’ve had some success with beer breads, go ahead and experiment and you might a whole new angle on your favorite bread machine recipes.