Late Fall and early Winter are definitely the seasons when we let ourselves indulge in bread more often than our typical three to four times a month. Like this porter beer bread with butter and cheese. I say indulge because we really do not eat bread that often and it is always a treat when we do.
During most of the year we’d typically have pizza now and then or French toast for breakfast, but once in a while I’ll find myself craving a baked open faced sandwich or Chris would insist on grilled cheese or a burger. There are also those times when we cannot resist a crusty baguette or fresh rolls at a restaurant. Or pitas. But in general we are really good about not over indulging. We are loyal to beer, i.e. liquid bread:). And we are painfully aware of the fact that one can only consume so many carbs before becoming seriously ill. Our choice is clear (including the sad days when we stay away from beer too).
But. From about mid-November to mid-February-ish it is typically so cold that bread becomes that much more tempting and manages to make it to our table more frequently. Moments of weakness. Please tell me that you too tend to eat more bread in the winter.
A couple of nights ago the winds blowing from the mountains (we live very near to the East entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park) were so strong that braving it out to drive to the store was the last thing I wanted to do. I am talking about 60 mph+ winds… When we lived in Florida anything at this speed would be on the news non-stop (usually tropical storm/hurricane watch related) but here it is not such a big deal. And I’d just made a tasty leeks and roasted butternut squash soup and could not stop thinking about how some cheesy bread sticks would go perfectly with it. Yet the winds…
Beer bread being simultaneously the fastest and the least effort required bread I know how to bake seemed absolutely justified. I mixed up a batch of dough and baked a super fragrant porter beer bread loaf. With some cheese in it for good measure and a generous amount of melted butter poured over it.
I suggest you do the same some time soon, regardless of the strength of the winds where you live. There is just something about beer bread…The sweetness, the crust, the soft texture, the distinctive smell, the warmth.
Neither Chris, nor I like to taste the bitterness of hops in a loaf, so I always make sure to choose a sweet brew. In the case of this porter beer bread, the IBU of the Geary’s London Porter I used was only 28, further mitigated by the typical addition of sugar.
Beer bread dries out much quicker than yeast breads or even naturally fermented sour dough bread. Just like Irish soda bread does. If you want to keep a loaf moist for a bit longer adding more butter can help. Once out of the oven, place your bread onto a cooling rack (still in the pan) and turn off the oven. Pour another half stick of melted butter over it, then put it back in the warm oven for just a few more minutes. The loaf will soak it all up, faster than you think. Or you could use olive oil for a more herbal flavor.
Day old beer bread also makes for amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as very tasty croutons.
I will be baking the same loaf (minus the cheese) tomorrow, but not to eat right away. Once cooled off, I plan on cutting it into small cubes and drying them out in the oven to use in our Thanksgiving stuffing. Porter beer bread is perfect to make a stuffing with. Another thing to be grateful for besides the fact that there are no winds in the forecast for the next ten day period.
- 3 cups flour
- 4½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 12 oz porter (or stout, choose one with low IBU)
- ½ cup of shredded cheese
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- 10 sage leaves (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well together.
- Add the porter while gently stirring until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.
- Fold in the shredded cheese.
- Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, grease it and spread the dough into it.
- Melt the butter and gently pour it over the dough.
- Decorate with sage leaves (optional).
- Bake for approximately 50-55 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool off for about 10 minutes before gently pulling it out of the pan and serving.