I always feel a little weird opening up liquor in the morning for baking or cooking. It’s really very silly but it’s so ingrained in me that you don’t drink booze until after noon that I get all giddy and giggly about it, making all kinds of stupid jokes that nobody laughs at. I need to grow up…or find new friends. Either one.
At 10 o’clock this morning, I popped open a bottle of Guinness and set to work on a loaf of Beer Bacon Bread. So as not to be wasteful, I was sure to promptly drink the remaining beer before it went flat, all while making excuses to nobody in particular about the good reasons to not just dump it down the drain. I’m sure nobody cared.
The recipe called for letting the beer go flat before starting for better texture, but I was too impatient for that. The bread ended up being very soft on the light crust setting so this may be due to my haste. I don’t feel it negatively affected the flavor, however, so don’t feel that you must wait for the last of the bubbles to burst. All will still be well–just pick a darker crust setting.
One thing you need to do is be sure you’re using “fresh” yeast. I bought my instant dry yeast in bulk at BJ’s and kept it in the freezer (which is a good idea to extend the shelf-life) but I lost track of when I opened it and it was no longer in the original packaging. I decided to pick up a new package this past weekend and wow, what a difference! The bread I made last week still rose, but nowhere near as high as today’s loaf. Always mark dates on your baking products and pay heed to expiration dates. When all else fails, if it’s been a year, it’s time to replace it. It’s not worth saving a couple bucks to use yeast that’s past its prime.
This would make a good savory sandwich bread. Large hunks of it would also be nice accompanying a hearty soup. There’s an interesting tang from the aioli mustard sauce that gives great depth to this bread–boring, it is not! And that’s the best part about making bread at home–that you don’t have to settle for the boring stuff that lines the shelves at the grocery store. It’s all in your hands.
Beer Bacon Bread
adapted from Betty Crocker’s Best Bread Machine Cookbook
makes one 1.5-lb loaf
- 3/4 cup Guinness stout, or other beer (alcoholic or not), flat
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 2 Tbsp Trader Joe’s Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce (or just plain mustard)
- 1 Tbsp butter, softened
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 3/4 tsp bread machine or quick active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon (about 6 strips of center cut)
Carefully measure and add your ingredients to the bread pan per the manufacturer’s instructions for your bread machine (in my case, that’s wet ingredients first, including sugar, then dry, with the yeast last). Hold back the bacon until the raisin/nut signal. If your machine doesn’t give you that indication, it’s during the second knead cycle about 5-10 minutes before it ends. You’ll be using the basic/white cycle for a 1.5-lb loaf. I recommend medium crust color as light seemed too light with this bread. Watch the dough during the first five minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry (shaggy, not gathering together into a ball, dry ingredients still on the bottom) or too wet (slopping around in the pan) and add more water or flour, little by little, to adjust accordingly. You don’t want to add too much as baking with yeast requires the right balance of ingredients in order to be successful.
When done, remove the loaf to a wire rack and cool completely before cutting. Bread always tastes best on the day it’s made but you can store for several days in an appropriate container. Be aware that plastic bags tend to make the crust much softer. Do not store your bread in the refrigerator as it negatively affects the texture.