Baking with beer

December 3, 2009

Baking with beer can be just as enjoyable as drinking it.

Beer bread is usually the first baked good that comes to mind, which is fitting since beer itself is essentially liquid bread: grain, yeast and sugar, in the form of alcohol. Most beer bread recipes call for additional leavening agents, such as baking powder and baking soda, but some rely entirely on what's in the bottle.

Beer bread is simple, quick and delicious, especially for those who fear yeast, but bread is not the only food one can bake with beer. There are numerous possibilities: beer donuts, beer muffins, even decadent flourless chocolate torte. One of my favorites is Berlin Beer Cake from Beer and Good Food by Myra Waldo; the book, published in 1958, features the author posed on the back cover wearing pearls and evening attire while holding a gigantic can of beer.

The chilly December weather makes now an ideal time to channel one's inner Myra (minus the pearls, perhaps) and bake this cake; the flavors of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses combined with ample amounts of nuts and raisins make it well-suited to the holidays. Plus, the cake is baked in a tube pan, which screams "Christmas wreath." Topped with powdered sugar, a simple icing or drizzled with honey, it makes a delightful end to a meal (or in my case, start to the day).

When baking with beer, keep in mind that whatever beer you use will affect the flavor of the finished result. I used a winter warmer in my cake for extra richness and depth. Stouts are commonly used in desserts because their rich flavor mimics chocolate, whereas a light lager will provide a completely different feel to the same recipe. Have fun and get creative, with one caveat: hop bitterness intensifies in the oven, so generally speaking it's best to use a less hoppy drink.

More delicious beer recipes:



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Glass Bottles's picture

This looks fantastic. I am always shocked to see beer in a baking recipe, but there is generally a good reason it is there!