You know I am far from being a lazy cook. But I do often find the ritual sequences of bread baking somewhat imposing. Countless fans make my spelt challah, and my Moroccan bread (Khobz) Recipe, to name just two of my bread recipes.
I eat bread in very moderate amounts, but when I do I want it wholesome, crusty and light. This description certainly does not apply to the eggy, flabby and insipid commercial breads we find on our supermarket shelves. I just cannot bear to settle for it. This is why quite often I end up forgoing it altogether.
But recently, a funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen:
Quick Beer Bread
And I really mean quick beer bread. All the liquid used was beer, the ultimate leavening agent. I still include a little yeast just to double up on the ferment. Mix the dough, pour it into a loaf pan, bake, enjoy. End of story. How cool is that, I thought? My own bread, with my own choice of great wholesome grains, ready in minutes, from beginning to end?
The beer does all the work of rising!
No problem using non alcoholic beer. It’s not the alcohol we are after here, it’s the hops’s abundant and generous ferment.
With commercial bread, I was too often pretty far from the extra light and extra crusty bread rolls and flatbread I love. A pullman-style loaf I could slice, that I don’t find very inspiring. So I decided to make my own. It didn’t matter that rolls looked rustic and hopelessly artsy-craftsy. Crusty was the operative word here.
So this was my first try, and they were homely but feather-light and delicious. With all the compliments I received on these beer bread rolls, I felt very encouraged to tinker further.
The ideal solution was: This wonderful baguette pan. My next try. See how much nicer they look? For crusty-bread lovers like me, this pan is ideal because it is perforated from all parts, and even the bottoms of the rolls sit on an elevated all-perforated bottom, and therefore the hot air hits the bread from all parts: that is the secret of the crustiness baguettes are so prized for. I only eat the crust, even while many others remove the crusts and eat only the pillowy center part of sliced bread slices. That always makes both of us happy: More crust for me, more crumb for them.
It may be an old wife’s tale that bread crusts and all flat breads are much easier on our digestive system, but it works for me, and for quite a few of us, beside being much more textured and more delicious.
Our Moroccan Bread, Khobz, is utterly unadorned, flat and impossibly crusty, the dream dunking bread. Splitting it across will make you the best crustiest Pan Bagnat
We roll out the dough into flattish disks, and bake them in very hot ovens.
I will start with Basic Quick Beer Bread
Once you get the hang of the ridiculously simple basic recipe, flavorings and fillings will be a piece of cake. I made a batch with lots of rosemary, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives, and they were fantastic!
Beer Bread Freeze Very Well!
Don’t hesitate to double the recipe, and vary the seasonings.
- 4 1/2 cups flour (I used white spelt, but you can use any flour you like in any combination: spelt, all-purpose, fine cornmeal, semolina, oats, kamut, rye, etc), a little more flour if necessary to obtain a smooth dough (no more than 1/2 added cup total)
- 1 12-ounce bottle beer, non-alcoholic OK
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 to 4 tablespoons coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Preheat the oven to 375*F
Mix all ingredients to form a smooth dough.
If time allows, let the dough rest, a few minutes to one hour. If not, keep going.
If making rolls:
Preheat the oven to 375*F
Divide the dough into 12-15 balls.
Shape the balls into round flattish rolls or longish rolls.
Place the rolls on a cookie sheet, or better yet, on a baguette pan.
Bake about 20 minutes, or a little longer, until nice and golden, and crusty.
If making a loaf:
Preheat the oven to 375*F
Shape into one large loaf, any shape you like, round or long, or two smaller loaves. The flatter you roll it out, the crustier the bread will come out.
Bake about 35-40 minutes, or a little longer, until nice and golden, and crusty.
Quick Beer Bread Variations
Always start with the basic bread dough above. Here are just some suggestions:
- High fiber beer bread: Add 1/4 cup oat fiber or Psyllium,
- Oat bread: Use a little less flour, and add 1-2 cups old fashioned oats
- Rye bread: use part rye flour. Add 1/4 cup molasses (skip the sugar) and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Seeded bread: add your favorite mixed seeds, up to 1 cup
- Moroccan bread (Khobz): add 1/2 cup sesame seeds and 2 tablespoons anise seeds
- For a deeper taste, use dark beer, 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder, molasses as sweetener, and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds.
- Add rosemary and minced onion
- Add a handful chopped oil-cured olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes. In this case, skip the salt
- Add raisins, chopped walnuts and cinnamon
- Throw in 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- Dairy rolls: Throw in up to 1 cup grated white cheddar and 1/4 cup minced dill
- Shape into 2 flat round loaves
- Use it as Pizza Dough: Fabulous!