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Beer Makes Bread? Sort of.

This past week, my younger daughter put up a note on her Facebook page about smelling ale and it making her want to bake bread. And I thought, “hunh…is there enough yeast still left in beer or ale to do that?” Now, scientifically, what happens with beer or wine for that matter is that the yeast that gets put in eats up all the sugar, produces CO2 and alcohol as a byproduct and once the alcohol level gets high enough (for the particular strain of yeast – all of them are different and some wine yeasts can produce as much as 15% alcohol by volume before they conk out), the yeast get killed off.

But…you never know….that stuff is pretty yeasty smelling. So I tried an experiment. I frankly bought the cheapest beer I could find at the grocery store (no Oomegang Belgian Dark or anything like that), opened up a couple of bottles and left them open all night to try to make it flat. Next morning – no good. Still bubbly as ever, so I poured it into a big glass measuring cup and zapped it for 30 seconds and stirred it up. And I did that again. At that point, it was warm enough. I measured out two exactly the same amounts of the beer into bowls, added one teaspoon of sugar to each and a half a cup of flour to each and put them in a warm oven to raise. Then, I added one tablespoon of dry yeast to one of the bowls.

Well, NOW we know. Warm beer/sugar/flour? Zippo.

So, there I was with a bowl full of very bubbly starter so I decided to make bread out of it. I warmed up the rest of the beer (the total volume must have been close to 16-18 ounces of beer) and produced this:

Beer Bread With Multigrains

16-18 ounces of beer, opened and warmed up
1 Tbs. Yeast
1 tsp of sugar, honey, or molasses
½ cup of flour (I use bread flour but regular basic flour will work)

Stir up and put into a warm place to rise – this will take about 10-15 minutes. Should be very bubbly.

Put into a big bowl with 1 cup of whole wheat flour and stir. Add enough regular or bread flour until you have a sticky dough.

Add: 1/3-1/2 cup of multigrain hot cereal (if you don’t have that you can add other whole grains that you’ve got – amaranth, grits, quinoa, whatever)
Add ¼ cup of flax meal or flax seeds (flax meal is actually better for you; crushing it up allows for better absorption)

Mix all of this together and turn out onto a floured board or countertop. Put more flour on top and knead until it is no longer sticky at all. Put into a big greased bowl and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Punch down, turn out on your floured board or counter and knead a little bit. Grease up two cookie sheets and divide the dough in half, forming each into a ball. Taking a sharp knife, make one cut straight through the top. Put back into the oven and let rise for 30 min. Take out of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when you rap on them with your knuckles or a knife handle. Take out, let cool, slice and enjoy.
(Yeast micrograph courtesy of Dr. Maxim Zakhartsev, Dr. Sergei Rarozin, Carmen Momeu, International University Bremen, Germany)

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  1. Millineryman says:

    Thanks Toby. I’ve been thinking about making some multi grain bread since most of the commercial brands use barley which in most cases I’m allergic to. There are some beers though that don’t bother me.

    I use this recipe, scroll down to the second recipe, for pizza crusts. The beer enhances the yeast flavor. I also find the dough to be extremely elastic for stretching very thin, and the olive oil adds another layer of flavor.

    The last time I made it, I threw in some toasted black sesame seeds which I really enjoyed.

  2. cidell says:

    That looks so ridiculously good

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