The beer bread wars

Beer bread is now my enemy and needs to be conquered!

Sadly, I have no recipe for you today. I just need to vent about a bread idea that won’t seem to turn from a good idea into a great loaf. I had bookmarked this recipe for beer bread awhile ago. Last week I decided to bake the bread, but I wanted it to be multigrain so I swapped out some of the white flour for whole wheat, semolina, spelt and rye. I used a dark San Miguel beer for the beer component. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

Last week’s failure was the first hint that this bread might be my Achilles heel. I failed to allow the bread to rise long enough and I insisted on baking it as one big loaf instead of two smaller ones. I ended up with a compact loaf that had a really good flavor, delicious really…on either end. From about three inches into the loaf on either side, I had a raw spot in the middle of the loaf. I was so sad because the part that was cooked was sweet and had a delicious malted flavor.

The recipe seemed worth saving so I mixed up the dough yesterday and let it rise three and a half hours. It didn’t seem long enough, but I flattened it and then formed it into a loaf and let it rise a second time… all day. Around 8:30PM the dough still didn’t look proofed enough, so I put it in the fridge and gave up for the night. I brought the dough out this morning and let it warm and rise for… another 5 hours! I finally got it into the oven. I didn’t think the temperature was correct the previous week, so I raised it by 25 degrees. Big mistake. Forty minutes into baking it, I had an over browned crust and according to my thermometer a long way to go before the middle was cooked. I covered the crust with foil and gave the bread another 40 minutes in the oven. Impaling the bread with a thermometer every ten minutes or so (war is not pretty, I tell ya!), I was able to get the interior baked all the way, but now I have an ugly bread that has a tough crust and tastes…like…beer. The long proofing time just succeeded in making the yeast eat up all of the honey I used as sweetener. Ugh. I guess I’ll be making beery flavored sandwiches this week. Or maybe beer flavored croutons?

So much for my bread baking adventures. Tune in next week for something tastier than beer bread.

Here is a brief tour of the carnage:

The crust is dark and tough!

The bread had good lift off as you can tell since it is peaking over the pan…

….But that’s because it had a big ugly crack in it!!! Grrrr!!!!



  1. Chai Chai said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Beer bread? The Commander used to be in the Navy so I hope he doesn’t see this post or else he will be asking me to try and recreate your efforts.

    • Mimi said,

      April 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      Oh, please no!! Hide my blog from him. At least until I can get it right!!! 😯

  2. Joanne said,

    April 2, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Hmmm I wish I had some advice for you. Does the alcohol inhibit rising? I love the idea though! It has so much promise.

  3. drfugawe said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:34 am

    There’s the old saying that bread is solid beer, and beer is liquid bread – you had several variations in your efforts. Over-proofing produces alcohol, so your second effort was well on it’s way to beer. The first just sounds under-baked – did it temp out OK? I’m using 205 now for my loaves, and even then I think it’s a good idea at the end of the bake to turn the oven off, open the door a crack, and leave the loaf in there for another 5 mins.

    We all have our weak areas – mine is the seeming inability to know when proofing time is over – I frequently over-proof. I know my weakness; I know how to avoid it; and I still do it.

    I love the art of cooking, and I’d love to think that baking is an art – but for the most part, baking is a science, and when we stray from one of the rules, we get rude reminders.

    • Mimi said,

      April 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      You’re going to laugh at me. It didn’t temp out ok and it was getting so late that I got impatient and yanked it out of the oven. So the first bad attempt was fully my fault.

      Baking should be an art dammit. But you’re right, it is a science and I am terrible at math. Harumph!

  4. Andreas said,

    April 2, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Hm, can’t really think of something helpful, except to try again. 😉
    I’d go for the middle ground between sandwiches and croutons and make crostinis, which you can eat tapas-style with some of that dark lager.

  5. April 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Hilarious… and it looks like the crust would be YUMMY!

  6. drfugawe said,

    April 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Oh yeah, now I remember – by god, I’ll bet I was unconsciously influenced to do that beer bread by your experience here – please forgive for not giving you your due recognition.

    • Mimi said,

      April 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      No problem, I’m glad you didn’t give me recognition for screwing up beer bread on your blog. Lol!! I just think it’s funny that you did this. 😀

  7. drfugawe said,

    April 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    You are most gracious. And I should tell you that I fully intend to go all the way with this to Barm Bread, the way it was made in England in the 1800s. But for that, I’ll need to get a bottle of “bottle conditioned” beer/ale, and make my own barm – but I shall do it.

    • Mimi said,

      April 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      You know what. You should make your own beer for this project because there are two breads to make. One is your Barm bread. The other is bread with the “spent grains” from the beer brewing. PLUS you get homemade beer!!

      (Of course, I am full of these great suggestions because I want someone else to go first, lol!)

  8. April 19, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Sorry to hear about this going grown 😦 But it still looks like it tasted pretty good.

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