Recipe: Italian Cheddar Beer Bread

by Cate on November 29, 2007

Susan, this bud’s for you. Or more specifically, this Peg Leg Ale is for you. The other day I was catching up on a few of the regular food blogs I read, Susan’s Farmgirl Fare being one of them. Truth be told, I don’t get to visit as many as I’d like to regularly, but the lure of the impossibly cute animals on Susan’s farm is nearly too much to bear.

While I was catching up on what she’s been up to, I spied her recipe for beer bread. Seriously, folks, how can you not whip up a batch of this stuff? I’d wager a bet that you have all the ingredients on hand, and it is, no lie, in your oven happily making its way to pure homebaked goodness in under 10 minutes. Once you have those facts under your belt, why would you steer towards another course? Grocery store breads be darned!

Seeing she had quite a few variations with the recipe, I had a hunch that the recipe would be forgivable with a little ‘o this and a little ‘o that thrown in for good measure. I mixed and matched and yes, I know cheddar isn’t Italian, but it’s my bread, so there. A dash of oregano, a sprinkling of basil, two minced garlic cloves and more than a smattering of shredded sharp white cheddar… delish. One other tweak I added is when I was putting the batter into the loaf pan (and she’s right, it is thick, don’t be scared), I put half of it in, added more cheddar (uh huh!) and then the rest of the batter on top … producing a nice cheesy, rippling river right through the center of the loaf. Oh baby. Go crazy. I betcha sun-dried tomatoes would taste fab in this.

Forty-five oven baked minutes later and I was rewarded for my efforts (ha! what effort?!) with fresh-baked bread. You cannot go wrong with this one; do give it a whirl. It would make a perfect holiday gift for your neighbors, and they’ll think you slaved all day. Thanks, Susan!

P.S. Heard the news? The kick-off of the 2007 Food Blog Awards is nearly here; if you’re a food blogger, please help spread the word.

Farmgirl Susan’s Beyond Easy Dill & Cheddar Beer Bread Recipe
Makes One Loaf

The optional egg glaze gives the top a beautiful, dark golden color. As always, I encourage you to use locally produced and/or organic ingredients whenever possible.

Basic Beer Bread Mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure it’s fresh!)

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
12 ounces beer

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, dill, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan (Susan loves these Chicago Metallic Commercial Loaf Pans–they’re great for yeast breads, too), brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Flavor Variations:

Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.

Dill & Chive: Add 2 Tablespoons fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.

Italian: Add 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano (or 1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and oregano), 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese to the basic mix.

Other Additions: Any dried or fresh herbs; 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup oats in place of 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Or practically anything else you can think of–use your imagination.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael November 30, 2007 at 1:36 am

OH WOW CATE. Yum. I was super inspired by that post too, and ran out and got all the ingredients to make the kits this weekend…but you, you MADE it. Im so envious, that looks SO good. I think one person on my list might not get this and might get an itunes card instead…I just cant resist. LOL.

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Farmgirl Susan November 30, 2007 at 2:27 pm

LOL great post. I’m so glad you enjoyed the beer bread! It really is one of those amazingly wonderful recipes–and so versatile. I’m afraid to try the layer of cheese in the middle thing–I think it might just be too good. And sun dried tomatoes are a great idea. Thanks for the links–and the bud! ; )

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