(Bacon & Cheddar) Herb Beer Bread

For week two of Oktobeerbreadfest we are going a bit more traditional. Beer, cheese, and a bacon are a lovely combination in soup form which gave me the inspiration for this bread. I added some fresh herbs (you can use dried herbs too) for something a little extra, and wound up with a bread that really shines alone, as well as being excellent to dip in tomato soup, craft a glorious grilled cheese, or serve with actual beer cheese soup.

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Sharp cheddar is my cheese of choice here, but any cheddar or firm cheese would do nicely. Play around with the flavors to mix and match with your entrées and sandwiches. Crumbled bacon adds an extra savory note and a bit of texture, without overpowering the bread itself. If you only want a hint of bacon, I recommend just crumbling a slice or two on top of the loaf (before baking) rather than folding it into the batter itself.

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Vegetarian or just not into bacon? Stick to just cheese and herbs and you’ll still wind up with something amazing. Vegan? Herb beer bread is excellent as well, or try your favorite vegan cheese substitute (and let me know how it turns out!)

Cheddar Herb Beer Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Extra cheddar and/or bacon will result in a grilled cheese for the ages; optionally, pair with a bottle of the beer you used in the bread to bring the whole meal together. For breakfast, top with a poached egg and extra herbs and you are good to go.

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

 

Regardless of the variation(s) you try, this bread is a super easy way to get that cheesey, bready, goodness without needing the patience for yeast. Let me know your favorite combinations!

(Bacon & Cheddar) Herb Beer Bread

Makes one standard loaf

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup white flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dried herbs (I used a mix of basil and chive)

12 oz beer
4 oz sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
2-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk together to remove lumps.
  3. Pour in beer and stir until just combined.
  4. Fold in cheddar and bacon, if using.
  5. Spread evenly into prepared pan, then top with remaining oats.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool on the counter about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Serve with butter, either solo or alongside your favorite chili.

Notes

Words

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Rosemary Almond Cider Bread

Is it fall where you are yet? Montana got snow on Sunday, so I guess that means it’s fall now. Hopefully the 60s of this week are not just a fluke and we have some crisp weather the rest of the month. Perfect weather for baking and soups and reading a good book. Typically October means two things: Oktoberfest and Halloween. Not being much of a fan of either, usually I ignore most of the month’s festivities in favor of prime running season. This year I’m doing both, with a half marathon this coming Sunday and a new Oktobeerbreadfest series starting today.

Rosemary Almond Cider Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

 

Despite my failure to find a beer I’ll drink solo (granted, I’ve not tried very hard), the hard cider scene is definitely my thing. We only have one cidery here in Bozeman, but there’s a few throughout the state and with Montana Cider Week slowly catching on, I decided to celebrate the first of the series with a cider bread instead of a beer bread. (For you beer bread lovers, the remaining weeks will be more your thing.)

Rosemary Almond Cider Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

You may remember some previous iterations of cider bread, as a standalone and part of my grilled cheese series this spring. This particular recipe is closer to the latter, in that I wanted to keep it as savory as possible. With the seasons usually revolving around plenty of sugar, an easy and relevant but still savory bread is perfect to start your day or accompany your favorite soups. If rosemary isn’t your thing, thyme or sage would be delicious substitutions.

Rosemary Almond Cider Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

A dry cider and little to no added sugar keeps this bread pretty neutral. For a twist, I used almond flour instead of white flour. This adds a slightly nutty note and results in a vaguely more moist bread, but pairs beautifully with the apple flavor. Stirring in a grated apple and a bit of rosemary adds a little something without being overpowering. The flavors are prominent enough to stand on their own yet also delicious alongside any number of fall soups and stews, especially those with an apple note. An apple pumpkin butternut squash soup and this bread would be a match made in delicious, delicious heaven.

Rosemary Almond Cider Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Sweet-adjacent from the almonds and apples but definitely not a sweet bread, I’m sure this one will be a fairly regular appearance in my bread adventures. Excellent as toast with butter and/or your favorite jam, or bust out some Brie for a grown-up grilled cheese. Cream cheese or chèvre with apple and turkey would also be a lovely sandwich, cold or hot.

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Sprinkled with sliced almonds and extra rosemary, this bread is as pretty as it is delicious. Celebrate cider week from the comfort of your own home with this easy and delicious bread. And check back each week this month for a brand new recipe for your fall bread needs.

Rosemary Almond Cider Bread

Makes one standard loaf

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups superfine almond flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 – 2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
2 tsp dried (whole) rosemary, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 medium apple, grated, and excess moisture squeezed out1
12 oz dry hard cider

1 Tbsp sliced almonds, to garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients until the flours are no longer lumpy.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, and stir until well combined.
  4. Spread evenly into prepared pan, then top with almonds and an extra pinch of rosemary, if desired.
  5. Bake 55-60 minutes.
  6. Let cool about ten minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Excellent solo or with your favorite soup. Store leftovers on the counter in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.

Notes

I never peel/core my apple but you can if you want. Otherwise, just wash it well and ensure there are no seeds in the pile after grating. Use a thin cloth or a couple of paper towels to squeeze out the excess moisture before adding to your bowl.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche

During my lower carb adventure last month I came across a recipe for quiche that sounded delightful, but didn’t fit with that goal. Recalling that crustless quiche is definitely a thing you can do (bonus – it’s also easier) I decided to modify this recipe to better fit my macronutrient needs.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

I often eat eggs for breakfast, and a scramble is one of my favorite things after a hard run. With my weekday runs increasing in length and intensity, and my go-to peanut butter & banana toast being too high in carbs, it became necessary to find something easy to eat at work on those days. Throughout the winter I regularly prepped a scramble the night before but not only is this a time-consuming process, it requires me to remember and have the energy to do this on a weekly basis. As someone who prefers to meal prep all at once, it didn’t fit well into my schedule once I consistently preferred a hearty post-run meal twice per week. Since this deep-dish quiche makes 8 servings, one quiche will last me nearly a month of weekday runs.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Sautéed garlic, onion, and spinach are given a protein boost with shredded chicken (I occasionally purchase the packaged rotisserie chicken meat from Costco which makes this super easy) and a generous amount of Gruyère cheese. With a base of eggs and half and half, this hearty and creamy quiche is perfect for any meal. Some paprika brings a fun flavor that blends nicely with a multitude of toppings and side dishes; I like to top mine with a sprinkle of goat cheese or feta and extra freshly ground pepper. Sriracha is a welcome addition if you’re looking for extra kick.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Serve with dressed greens (for the keto crowd), fresh fruit (for the starch conscious), and/or roasted potatoes (for the classic American pairing.) Toast or scones would round out a brunch nicely, especially if you offer some homemade jam to accompany them. If you’re vegetarian, stir in some black beans or your favorite meat-replacement in lieu of the chicken, or just add extra veggies instead.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is superbly easy and will definitely become a monthly endeavor for me. It’s easily customizable (Bacon and cheddar? Turkey and gouda? Yes please!), super simple, and a healthy way to start the day. Don’t be afraid of the half and half – fats keep you fuller longer, especially with a low-carb diet, and even with all that goodness each slice is still less than 250 calories. (However, if you’re super concerned you can probably substitute whole milk instead.)

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for long-term storage. Wrap slices individually in aluminum foil and then heat in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy. I’ve found that putting the frozen slice on a folded paper towel to soak up excess water, defrosting for 2-3 minutes, then cooking for 30-45 seconds results in the most evenly heated experience.

Whether you’re low-carb or not, this easy quiche is perfect for a weekend brunch or weekday prepping; let me know what you think!

PS – Are you ready for National Ice Cream Month? My annual ice cream series starts July 6!

Spinach & Gruyère Crustless Quiche

Inspired by Positive Health Wellness
Makes one deep-dish quiche (8 servings)1

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 clove elephant garlic, minced (or 3 cloves regular)
3 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

4 oz Gruyère cheese, diced

8 eggs
1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and coat a 9″ deep-dish1 pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. In a large frying pan heat oil over medium until hot.
  3. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are beginning to look translucent.
  4. Stir in a handful at a time spinach and sauté until wilted.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in chicken until mixture is well combined.
  6. Spread mixture into prepared pie plate and top evenly with cheese.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half (or milk), and paprika until frothy. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste (I did 1/4 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper).
  8. Carefully pour into pie plate – it will be full! – and sprinkle generously with additional paprika.
  9. Bake for about one hour, or until top is browned and quiche is set. If it is browning too fast you can cover it with foil for the last 20 minutes or so.
  10. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving plain or with some extra goat cheese or feta sprinkled on top, plus freshly ground pepper. For some kick, Sriracha is a delicious complement. Fruit, dressed greens, toast/scones, or roasted potatoes are excellent choices for side dishes.
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge or wrap completely cooled slices individually for a pre-portioned and freezer-safe breakfast.2

Notes

If you do not have a deep-dish pie plate (mine holds over 32 oz and was plumb full), use a standard 8×8 glass baking dish instead. It should bake about the same but I will try this next time I make it and update with any necessary adjustments. As a bonus, rectangles would be easy to wrap for meal-prep purposes anyway.

To reheat: unwrap and place in the microwave on a folded paper towel (to absorb excess moisture.) Defrost for 2-3 minutes then heat normally for 30-45 seconds. Enjoy!

Guinness & Baileys Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Brownies are one of the few things I almost never make from scratch. Costco sells 6-packs of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix which is what I nearly always use. Super chocolately, even more super easy, and the perfect fudgy texture that I love. Honestly, most homemade brownies are not as consistently good as this mix.

However I have been known to doctor up the mix a bit, swirling in peanut butter or folding in additional mix-ins. Brownies are one of my go-to desserts for potlucks because we always have them on hand and they are always well received; the fact that they only require five minutes of active cooking time is also a huge bonus.

A few weeks ago I decided to try out a cheesecake swirl, blending up the standard cream cheese and sugar combination that is beloved by many. It was, expectedly, a huge hit. Given the upcoming holiday, this gave me the idea to blend in typical St. Patrick’s Day flavors as another option to add to my repertoire.

Admittedly, this makes the recipe a tad more time consuming as reducing the Guinness is not a quick process. Fortunately you can do this ahead of time and just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. This makes the day-of process much quicker and allows you to do the reduction while you’re already minding something on the stove. It’s relatively low-maintenance so plopping it on a back burner while you make dinner would work just swell.

Despite having an entire bottle of Guinness, the change is subtle. Rather than smacking you in the face with beer, it simply enhances the chocolate and adds a nice robustness to the flavor profile. If you didn’t know it was in there, it might be challenging to put your finger on the mystery addition. It blends perfectly with the Baileys cream cheese for a supremely decadent but not extravagant dessert experience. And honestly, if you want to skip the Guinness part and just swirl in the Baileys cream cheese to regular ‘ole brownies, I would not judge you one bit. You could also skip the reduction step and just measure out standard beer, but I expect the flavor would be even less pronounced. (I also had the idea that Kahlúa in lieu of Guinness would be an excellent flavor pairing, and this may be my next brownie adventure.)

If you need an easy but delicious St. Paddy’s Day dessert, this could be the recipe for you. And if you’re looking for a crazier and more kapowy Guinness experience, then Irish Car Bomb Sundaes might be right up your alley.

Guinness & Baileys Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients

1 bottle Guinness beer

1 box Ghirardelli brownie mix (I use Triple Chocolate)
1/3 cup vegetable oil¹
1 egg

8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Baileys liqueur

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer Guinness until reduced to 1/3 cup¹. Pour into a medium bowl and let cool about 10 minutes or until ready to use (this is a great step to do ahead of time while you’re cooking something else on the stove).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a square pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Add oil and egg and mix until well combined. Stir in brownie mix until just combined.
  4. Reserve about 1/2 cup of brownie mix, and spread remainder into prepared pan.
  5. In a small bowl and using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy.
  6. Beat in egg and sugar until well combined, then beat in Baileys until just combined.
  7. Spread evenly atop brownie mix.
  8. With reserved mix, add spoonfuls on to the cream cheese mixture, then use a table knife to swirl in a pattern.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until brownies are still slightly wiggly but not watery.
  10. Allow to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes, then lift parchment paper to remove and cool completely.
  11. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares, wiping knife between each cut for clean slices.

Notes

¹ Or however much water/oil your brownie specific mix calls for.

Mini Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (& Vanilla Bean Ice Cream)

Several years ago I bought a fancy Pampered Chef stoneware mini fluted pan at a garage sale for like ten dollars. I promptly put it in a cupboard and mostly forgot about it because I have a standard bundt pan as well and if I’m honest, I simply don’t make many bundt cakes other than the delightful lemon one from a few years ago. If I’m more honest, the exhausting trial and error of finding that lemon bundt cake kinda turned me off to the entire style of cake for a while.

In any case, I eventually came across an amazing looking chocolate chip cookie double-bundt cake creation from Sprinkle Bakes and her description of the flavor was basically “yes please”. Chocolate chip cookies in pretty cake form? Please put that in my mouth.

On the other hand I certainly don’t need to make the double-layer version because if I have that much cake around I will just eat it. (M would probably not consider this a problem, to be fair.) I have fantastic willpower when it comes to not buying food that is terrible for me, but I have almost no willpower for anything in my line of vision at home. Things I have learned about myself over the years are summed up by “it’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.”

But I don’t want to avoid it completely, obviously, which is why I made the “mini” version. I put the mini in quotes because six of these mini cakes is the same amount as one standard bundt, which means each cake really serves two people. A fantastic way to test out my “new” pan and a new recipe all the while being fairly confident it’ll be delightful because both Pampered Chef and Sprinkle Bakes are extremely reliable. Fortunately, my hypothesis was correct.

All the comforting flavor of a chocolate chip cookie baked into a pretty fluted bundt. It is just the kind of cake to pair beautifully with ice cream, and I opted for vanilla bean for the pretty speckles and traditional flavor pairing. I shared my recipe below, but feel free to pair with your favorite store-bought variety instead. If vanilla seems too plain, chocolate is always a good bet, or you could pair with strawberry for a summer flavor and some fun color. One cake and a large scoop is a perfect dessert for two, and is a wonderful way to end a celebratory day.

Since there is no leveling, frosting, or really any extra presentation required, this is a fantastic option for those times you need to need a less time-consuming but still impressive dessert. It also travels well since there’s no frosting to fall off or glaze to slide around, and is quick to assemble once you arrive at your destination. You could even scoop the ice cream ahead of time to save on required utensils and remove the need to let your ice cream soften beforehand. Plop on a scoop, drizzle on some chocolate sauce, and you are all set for a flawless and decadent experience. It would also be a super cute addition to a couples’ dinner party, if you’re in to the host(ess) gig.

As you may have noticed, I molded my ice cream into heart shapes. Since I made this for our anniversary dessert, I like to do a little something extra to make it special. If you’re interested in this, just line mini cake pans of your choice with plastic wrap, then spread softened ice cream (if you’re using homemade, just do this right after churning) into the pans and freeze until firm. They melt quick once they’re out and near the hot fudge sauce, so only assemble right before you’re ready to serve.

Next time you’re in the market for a cake, I highly recommend you give this one a try (whether you invest in the fancy mini-bundt pans or not.)

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Gleefully borrowed from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes six 4.5″ mini bundt cakes (or one standard bundt cake)

Ingredients

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed

3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sour cream (full fat)
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Toppings
Hot fudge sauce
Vanilla bean ice cream (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour one standard bundt pan, or a 6-well mini fluted pan.
  3. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until completely combined.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
  6. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  7. Add the flow mixture, mixing on low speed just until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Batter should be thick.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes for mini bundt cakes (or 40-50 minutes for a standard bundt), or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly but not completely clean. Don’t over-bake or cakes will be a bit dry.
  9. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. When ready to serve, top one mini bundt or slice (I like to warm mine briefly in the microwave) with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream. Share with a friend (or eat it all yourself, I won’t judge.)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until completely combined.
  2. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold, or overnight. (Overnight is better as it will allow the vanilla bean flavor to really permeate the mixture.)
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl (or cake tins lined with plastic wrap) to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.