(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

Advertisements

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.

IMG_6868_Fotor

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.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese

Welcome to April! Remember when I said Montana springs are a bit wintery? It is literally 12 degrees as I write this (Fahrenheit, in case you’re reading from a sane country). Good thing it’s perfect grilled cheese weather.

Last year I discovered that not only is April 12 my dad’s birthday, but it is National Grilled Cheese Day, and April is National Grilled Cheese Month. This inspired a delightful series of posts and I’m back with four all-new flavors for this year – check back weekly for each new addition.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Starting off the series is a traditional pairing, apple and gouda, with a twist – apple cider bread. Inspired by my beer bread recipe, I substituted hard cider in the bread with great success last fall. For this sandwich, I nixed the Brie and also the sugar since all I had around was a pretty sweet bottle of Angry Orchard. If you’re using a dry cider, as I recommend, feel free to leave that bit of sugar in there; it adds a touch of caramel flavor to the bread.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

There are many grilled cheeses on the internet that call for apple, but most of them do not suggest you roast the apples first. I think this is a mistake as apples take much longer to cook than bread or cheese, and it will result in a possibly cold but definitely crunchy apple in the middle. If that’s what you’re going for (like if it’s not twelve degrees at your house) by all means skip the apple roasting step. For a softer, cozier, and more cohesive apple and cheese experience, pop the apples in the oven for a bit while you slice your bread and cheese and get them warm and tender.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Rich Gouda and sweet apples are a wonderful match as is, but the cider bread adds a brand new twist and a delicious savory dimension. The bread is a critical component of the Grilled Cheese Experience™ and not to be overlooked. However, if you don’t want to plan a day ahead to make a batch of bread, sourdough would be an acceptable substitution.

I always cook my grilled cheese open face and then sandwich them at the end – this allows the fillings to melt more evenly and more quickly but it does take up more space. If you’re cooking for a crowd, layer all the fillings on one slice of bread and cook those with the lid on until mostly warmed and the bread is golden, then top with your second slice and flip to finish them out.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Get out your frying pans and prepare yourselves for some new adventures in grilled cheese. Be sure to let me know how yours turn out!

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

2 slices apple cider bread (I recommend using a dry cider and no Brie)
2-3 thin slices Gouda
1 small Granny Smith apple

olive oil or butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees1. Line a baking sheet with silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. Peel (optional), core, and thinly slice apple.
  3. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, and bake until fork tender, 10-20 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. In a medium frying pan (with lid!) over low-medium heat, warm the oil or butter.
  5. Arrange both slices of bread in the pan, and top each with half the Gouda.
  6. Place the lid on the pan and gently cook until cheese is warm (Gouda does not always get as melty in appearance as other cheeses) and bread is golden brown.
  7. Layer warm apple2 on one of the bread slices (if your apple isn’t just out of the oven, you can add it at the same time as the cheese to warm.)
  8. Flip the slice without apples on top of the other (cheese sides together) and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
  9. Serve immediately; goes great with a hard cider!

Notes

You can also use the broiler, but lower the oven rack below center and pay close attention so they don’t get crisp.

You will have leftover apple but it makes a great snack with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or is perfect for tomorrow’s oatmeal.

Apple Cider Brie Bread

Montana continues to torment me with gorgeous days in the 40s before it kicks back up to nearly 70 again. I am ready for soup and sweaters, dangit. Fortunately this recipe is delicious independent of outdoor temps, so we can enjoy it all year round.

I’ve been making whole wheat beer bread for years, largely as way to use up beer taking up space since I don’t care for it in beverage form. Last year while planning my April grilled cheese series, I debated an apple and cheese combination but ultimately went in another direction. (I may revisit this series next April, stay tuned.) However, it reminded me of the perfect pairing of apple and brie, and it stuck in my mind as something to work in another area. With a garage overwhelmed with hard ciders (I am really bad at drinking, guys) and no reason any beer-esque beverage shouldn’t work, I modified it to utilize some of those bottles.

My test batch I made exactly as one would with regular beer (well, with less sugar), and was surprised at how much I loved it. With a much more subtle taste than a beer bread, it makes a great side dish for anything where you are looking for a more neutral flavor. Goes great with chicken soup, tomato soup, or anything you’d normally pair with beer bread. If I’m honest, I make this version a lot more often than the beer version, just because it’s so much more versatile in its complements.

However I felt I could improve the individual bread experience, and set out to do just that. With the addition of grated apple and diced Brie, it turns the bread into something to enjoy all by itself. It’s a wonderful breakfast or afternoon snack, and is delicious toasted and plain, or with a light spread of tart jam or peanut butter. Unlike beer bread, this version also pairs well with tea, which is nice for those of us that don’t drink coffee late in the day (or at all…weirdos).

So whether autumn has truly arrived or not, comfort yourself with a tasty batch of cider bread, and toast (wink wink) to the new season.

Apple Cider Brie Bread

Adapted from Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Makes one 9×5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 (12 oz) can or bottle hard cider

1 medium apple, grated (no need to core or peel; just pick out the seeds while you’re grating)
4 oz Brie cheese, diced (leave out to keep vegan)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in the cider and stir until completely combined.
  4. Gently fold in apple and cheese.
  5. Scrape into the prepared pan, smoothing the top as best you can.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out crumb-free.
  7. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. Excellent solo or lightly toasted and spread with a tart jam.

Homemade Frozen Pizzas

Last weekend Montana skipped straight from the heat of summer to its first snowfall. It didn’t stick much at the city level, but nonetheless resulted in a lovely “November” run on Saturday, and the snow-capped mountains are a welcome relief from the smokey haze we’ve been battling for weeks.

When the weather cools I start thinking about soups and chilis like any sane person, but I also think a bit more about quick freezer meals. One of my (many) odd quirks is that I really prefer not to bake in the dark. I have no idea where this mentality came from, but it sometimes makes the blog posts challenging in those few months of the year when all the daylight is during work hours and the weekends are filled with skiing. Arriving home in pitch black also makes me much less inclined to start a full dinner, and if I don’t have leftovers to reheat I usually end up with a grilled cheese or scrambled eggs. Despite my love of both, they do get a bit repetitive (and not particularly healthy) when eaten too often in lieu of a proper dinner.

A staple of most college kids, frozen pizzas are a quick and easy dinner for those busy evenings. I personally never buy them, since the odd ingredients and all-or-nothing style of vegetables don’t appeal to me, but the idea seemed incredibly sound. Armed with my mom’s dough and sauce recipes, I set off to make my own.

I pre-baked the crust to make it a little sturdier for storage, then topped them all with my favorite mix of meat, produce, and cheese. I am one of those people who likes fruits on their pizza, so sorry (not sorry) in advance if my pineapple and mandarins repulse you. I made one that evening, then froze the remaining five before wrapping in plastic wrap and sealing in Ziplocs to try another day.

Like the store-bought variety, these can be baked directly out of the freezer, sans all the wrappings. The bottoms have a tendency to brown faster than the cheese melts, so bake them one rack above center. If you are truly anti-crispy with regards to crust, bake on a silicon mat instead of directly on the baking sheet. They keep a month or two in the freezer with no dip in quality, and would probably last longer if you don’t eat them before then.

Alternatively, instead of adding the toppings right away, you can freeze the crusts naked and top when you bake them. This takes away a bit of the preparedness, of course, but has the added benefit of letting you add whichever toppings you feel like that day. It also gives you a bit more flexibility since certain toppings (like leafy greens, berries, raw tomato) may not freeze quite as well.

I made mine into small personal sized pizzas as their intended to be a one-off meal, and also so they fit nicely into gallon Ziploc bags for storage. You can make one pizza for tonight and freeze the rest for later, which makes the effort of mixing your own dough and sauce a little less off-putting. Despite the long list of ingredients, this is actually an incredibly easy project, and if you have all your toppings cut ahead of time it’s even fast enough for a weekday meal. Personal pizzas are also great if you have a variety of preferences in the house. M prefers a very high meat:not meat ratio, and loathes olives with a fiery passion; I prefer just a touch of meat and often experiment with more unusual combinations. Having individual pizzas for each of us makes it easy to customize the amounts of each topping, with no chance of contamination.

With school back in session, hunting season underway, and the cold weather imminent, this is a great time to prep a few meals for future nights. Make up a batch or two of dough and in an hour or two you can have 8-10 meals in the freezer for later.

Homemade Frozen Pizzas

Adapted from AllRecipes and Food.com
Serves 4-6 people1

Ingredients

Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

8oz can tomato sauce
6oz can tomato paste
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small bay leaf

Crust
1 cup water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt

cornmeal

Topping Suggestions2
2-3 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
12 oz hot Italian sausage, browned and drained
1 bell pepper, diced and sautéed
15 oz can pitted black olives, sliced
20 oz can pineapple chunks

Directions

  1. For the sauce: In a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft and transparent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer at least 30 minutes for best flavor.
  3. Remove bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
  4. For frozen pizzas, let cool completely and store in the fridge until ready to use. For pizzas you’re baking right away, you can use it now.
  5. For the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar and yeast. Slowly stream in water and stir gently. Let rest 10 minutes, until yeast has foamed.
  6. Gently and briefly stir in flour, salt, and oil. Using the dough hook, beat on low until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and sprinkle pizza pans or cookie sheets with cornmeal. Set aside.
  8. Sprinkle your counter or a cutting board with flour. Divide dough into desired number of servings and gently roll into circles. Transfer to prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 5-12 minutes, until crust is just starting to firm up. For mini pizzas this will be 5 minutes, for one large pizza it could be up to 12. If you’re making frozen pizzas, be very careful not to over bake.
  10. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly (for eat it now), or completely (for frozen pizzas).
  11. Assembly for eat it now: Spread sauce onto crusts to within 1/2 inch of edge, and top with desired toppings. Bake an additional 10-20 minutes, or until crust is desired crispness, cheese is melted, and toppings are warm.
  12. Assembly for frozen crusts: Allow crusts to cool completely, then wrap carefully in plastic wrap, seal in a Ziploc, and store in the freezer until ready to use. (You can add your toppings to the frozen crust, then bake as instructed below.)
  13. Assembly for frozen pizzas: Allow crusts, sauce, and topping to cool completely. I like to prep everything on one day, store the sauce in toppings in the fridge overnight, and then make the pizzas the next day. Crusts are fine on the counter in an airtight container.
  14. Spread crusts with sauce to within 1/2 inch of edges, and then add desired toppings. For mini pizzas I about 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup meat, then arrange the other toppings as they fit.
  15. Transfer pizzas to cookie sheets or cutting boards and then freeze until solid.
  16. Remove from freezer and wrap each pizza individually with plastic wrap, then place into Ziploc bags or airtight containers for longer-term storage. They should keep just fine for a couple of months if they are well wrapped. Pro tip: Use tape or labels to write baking instructions on each pizza.
  17. If you have leftover toppings, use them for scrambled eggs or omelets, on salad, or freeze for later use.
  18. Baking: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and for crispy crust on large pizzas move rack to one below center. For personal frozen pizzas with frozen toppings, you may want to move rack to one above center.
  19. Unwrap frozen pizza and place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. For less crispy crust, use a silicon mat.
  20. Bake an additional 15-25 minutes (depending on pizza size) or until crust is browned on the bottom, cheese is melted, and toppings are heated through. If the toppings are browning too fast for the crust, cover lightly with foil for the remaining bake time (and make a note to yourself that you might prefer to use a lower rack in the future.)

Notes

Lots of options here: one family sized pizza, two larges, 3 mediums, 4-6 personal sized pizzas. I did 6 smallish personal-sized pizzas because I like to have a side salad to make a well-rounded meal. Feel free to do whatever sizes suits you!

These are the toppings used in my pictures, but mix it up or make substitutions to fit your dietary needs/preferences.