(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.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Cold weather means warm soup, and warm soup calls for warm breads. I love a hearty soup, stew, or chili when the cold days hit, and I always take the opportunity to make a bread side to go with it. Beer bread and cornbread are my go-to options, but after seeing this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to set those aside and give these a try.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe immediately piqued my interest, combining my love affairs with both sweet potato and olive oil, and perhaps giving me an excellent chance to make use of my extensive Olivelle oil collection. Thanksgiving offered a large audience and so I set off to try it out.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

For my first attempt, I stuck largely to the original recipe, tweaking only to a sweet cream butter infused oil for half of it, and substituting rosemary for the sage. Paired with a rosemary herb butter, they were a delicious compliment to the usual Thanksgiving suspects, and I would definitely make that version again.

However, I had a hunch that my favorite maple and chipotle duo would work splendidly here, and gave that a try next. A hint of sweet from the syrup and a little kick from the chipotle turn this is into a perfect side for chilis or more Mexican-inspired soups. (They would be awesome with enchilada soup, for example.)

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

Since I was pairing mine with a spicy chili, I kept the biscuits with just a little kick to pull the flavors together. If you have other ideas, or just want all the heat, feel free to increase to your heart’s content.

Leftovers (if you don’t eat them all straight off the pan) can be enjoyed for several days, and are delightful on their own with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, or your favorite maple butter. Better yet, top them with a fried egg and a dollop of goat cheese along with that syrup, and you have a breakfast of champions.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

(I made that maple butter shown above, but it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. If I perfect the recipe, I’ll be sure to get it up here.)

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Adapted from The Speckled Palate
Makes about 16 biscuits

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
2-4 Tbsp maple syrup
olive oil to 1 cup (use an infused oil for extra flavor!)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle power, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper.) Set aside.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, pour desired amount of maple syrup.
  3. Pour in olive oil until combined total is 1 cup. (e.g. if you used 4 Tbsp maple syrup, you will add 3/4 cup olive oil to total 1 cup)
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together sweet potato and liquids until combined and smooth.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed, then continue to stir another 30 seconds.
  6. Lightly flour a cutting board or counter and press or roll dough into a rectangle 1/2″ – 3/4″ high.
  7. Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Gently reshape scraps in order to cut as many biscuits as possible.
  8. Arrange biscuits at least 1″ apart on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and biscuits are golden.
  10. Remove to a cooling rack to cool briefly, then serve warm with your favorite chili our soup.

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.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones

Hello my lovely readers, I hope the beginning of the new year is going smoothly for everyone. (If you want to get straight to the recipe, feel free to skip to the non-italicized text.) With regards to resolutions, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Alongside my usual set of running/baking/professional goals, I’ve decided to set a theme: mindfulness. Each month I am going to focus on being more mindful about something in my life. After reading the cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow I have been inspired to make January’s theme into Mindful Eating.

This doesn’t mean counting calories or following a list of restricted items, but it’s more about improving my relationship with food. It’s easy to feel guilty about eating (or not eating) certain things, to rush through meals in order to move onto something else, to just make things because they’re easy and fast and not because I’m particularly excited to eat them. This month I’m going to focus on food in a way that makes me happy, both mentally and physically: taking the time to make things from scratch as well as actually slowing down and enjoying what I’m eating; having fewer meals in front of a screen; enjoying decadent items as treats not cheats; focusing on what makes me feel happy and energetic and ready for the days to come. 

This is intended to be a long-term change in the way I really think about food. Although I’m not one to be exacting about my diet, I do often feel restricted by what society is touting as healthy these days. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean low-fat or low-calorie, carbs are not the devil and sugar isn’t the end of the world. Certainly I am going to be mindful of eating unnecessary added sugar, but I already know a low-carb diet doesn’t work that great for me, fats are important for flavor and staying power, and I want every calorie I eat to come from something I enjoy. I will no longer be describing anything as “guilt-free” because food should not be inherently shameful. I would love to hear your thoughts on this endeavor, should you be willing to share them. (Also I highly recommend the book, and you can expect to see some of those recipes on here in the coming months.)

In light of that, today we have another recipe that I made mostly out of curiosity. Consistent readers (and anyone that knows me in real life) will know that I don’t bake anything dairy-free, gluten-free, flourless, or vegan with any amount of regularity because these are not food traits I personally find important. I am, however, often intrigued by such recipes and will make them on occasion just for funsies.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for things I don’t buy, like self-raising flour, coconut sugar, and almond meal, but I followed her modification suggestions and made a few of my own to tailor the recipe for myself. I replaced some of the flour with ground oatmeal for a heartier flavor, nixed the almond meal in favor of chia seeds, and used regular ole’ brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. I cut the sugar way back since I was figuring the banana adds a fair amount of sweetness (and because I already have my favorite sweeter scones) and added some whole oatmeal for texture.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I found some cacao nibs on massive clearance, and bought two of the bags. They were a great addition to these scones, no extra sugar but a little bit of chocolate flavor to enhance the banana. However they are definitely not cheap so feel free to leave them out or use mini chocolate chips as a more decadent replacement.

These scones are fairly dense but soft and moist and delicious. They are also pretty healthy, with low amounts of added sugar and a little bit of protein and good carbs from the oatmeal. Probably you shouldn’t eat three of them, but one is a perfect light-ish breakfast, especially when paired with a cup of coffee.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

I made these a few times and below is my favorite of those iterations. It can be baked into regular size or mini scones, depending on your preferences and whether you plan to serve them solo or as part of a fuller breakfast. They’re also easily portable and a great brunch option, although I think they’re best slightly warmed.

The banana and oatmeal combination is delicious by itself or topped with any number of toppings. Jam or butter and cinnamon sugar were my favorites, but mostly I ate them plain. I especially like the less sweet version if it’s going to be spread with a sweet topping anyway, but you can definitely increase the sugar here if you prefer.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Give these a try and let me know what you think, and if any of your friends could guess they were vegan.

PS – These can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free flour and uncontaminated oats, and they are vegan/dairy-free unless you use normal chocolate chips, although I’m sure there are vegan/dairy-free versions of those out there you could substitute with.

Banana Scones

Adapted from OmNomAlly
Makes 12-16 mini or 6-8 large scones

Ingredients

2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 – 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar1
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (use almond flour for gluten-free options)
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, finely ground2
1/2 cup oatmeal, whole
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs, optional3

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mash banana completely. Add coconut oil (microwave briefly if it’s not already mostly liquid), brown sugar, chia, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined, then let rest at least 3 minutes, or until chia seeds have softened.
  3. Add flour, both ground and whole oatmeal, baking powder, salt, and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips), and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be a little loose and quite sticky, but should be solid enough to hold its shape.
  4. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and shape into rounds about 1″ tall. Use two rounds for mini scones, or one for large scones. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut rounds into 6 or 8 wedges.
  5. Bake until golden on top and slightly browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to over bake; they are better slightly too moist than slightly too dry.
  6. Serve warm. Great plain, with butter and cinnamon sugar, or your favorite jam. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter up to 3 days, but they are best on day one.

Notes

For sweeter scones, especially if you’re going to enjoy them plain, use the larger amount, or up to 1/2 cup. For less sweet scones, especially if you’re going to doctor them with jam, use the smaller amount. I personally like 1/4 cup best even plain, but the masses may prefer a sweeter option.

Use a blender to grind 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a powder. Leave 1/2 cup as normal for texture. =)

Cacao nibs are a great way to add a little chocolate flavor without the sugar and calories of chocolate chips. They are quite mild but delicious in baked goods. However for a more decadent treat, or if you don’t have cacao nibs on hand, you can substitute mini chocolate chips for delicious results, or leave them out entirely.