Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheese and Giardiniera Beer Bread

I've made beer bread before. Plenty of times. Heck, it was probably the first home made bread I ever made.

But beer breads never have the flavor or texture of standard yeast bread. Really, beer bread is a giant muffin-like thing. It doesn't have the flavor that yeast provides, because it used baking powder as a leavener.

Beer has yeast in it, but it's a different strain of yeast. And, if you're talking about most commercial beers, the yeast is dead. The yeasty flavor in bread isn't so much the flavor of yeast, but it's what the yeast does in the bread.

The beer does add some flavor, but it's a tricky ingredient. If the beer is too hoppy or too strongly flavored, the bread can end up tasting bitter. And sometimes you don't know how the flavor is going to change until you bake with it.

The Headwaters Pale Ale I used from Victory Brewing was a little sweet, a little malty, and not overly hoppy. It worked well in the bread.

But that wasn't enough. I amped up the flavor of this one with cheese and hot peppers, and added instant potato flakes to help the texture.

I used a variety of different cheeses that I happened to have on hand - use anything you like. If you're using hard cheeses like parmesan, I suggest grating it. Firm or somewhat soft cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, or feta, you can simply cut into pieces.

I chopped the peppers into small pieces so the flavor was distributed throughout the bread, but you could leave them in larger pieces, if you prefer.

When it comes to the peppers, consider how hot you want the bread to be - and how hot the peppers are. A quarter-cup of hot peppers will give you a really hot bread - so if you want a milder loaf, use milder pepper, or use fewer. Or, if you don't want any heat at all, you can use fire-roasted red peppers, instead.

Cheese and Giardiniera Beer Bread

2 cups (9 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 ounces cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
1/4 cup giardiniera peppers, chopped
3 tablespoons mild-flavored oil
12 ounces Victory beer, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a loaf pan with baking spray.

Combine the flour, potato flakes, salt, sugar. and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Add the cheese, giardiniera, oil, and beer. Stir to combine. Don't overmix.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees until the bread is nicely browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 1 hour.

Remove the loaf from the oven and take it out of the pan. Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Enter to Win: (Contest closed)


And the winner is ... Christopher Sorel! Congrats!

Do you like beer? Well, I'm not giving any away, but Lewis Bear is giving away some goodies including two beer-related tee shirts and some other beer-related items.

To enter, leave a comment here telling me what your favorite craft beer is.

But wait! There's more!

For an additional entry, tweet a link to this contest. Say anything you like.

And that's it. Two possible entries per person. Good luck!

BUT WAIT! There just a little more! Check out all the other Virtual Potluck posts using beer. The host blog for this potluck is 30AEats, where you'll find a complete list of all of the participating bloggers.

Entry is limited to residents of the US, 18 or older. Contest ends at noon, mountain time, on Sunday, February 5.

For the purposes of this post, Lewis Bear (a beer distributor) provided me with beer as well as some small promotional items. You can follow Lewis Bear on Twitter right here.
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