(Original Post Date: April 2, 2010)
A few days ago, I went to lunch at my friend Maria’s house to meet up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time… it was a blast! When you combine great food with good friends, time just flies by, and before we knew it… it was 5 hours later! Maria served a wonderful beer bread with lunch – it was sweet and savory, yet buttery at the same time. It was really good!
This afternoon, as I was strolling down the baking aisle at the market, a beer bread mix caught my eye. But oh my – it was $6.99! $6.99 for what was essentially some flour mixed with leaveners and flavorings (you still had to add your own beer) seemed outrageous to me, when sitting not even 2 feet away was a 5 pound package of self-rising flour for only $1.79. I was not about to buy the rip-off mix, so instead, I bought the 5 pound bag of Gold Medal Self-rising flour.
I’m not a big beer drinker, so I wasn’t sure what type of beer to get. I settled on Corona, because I figured I could use it as a marinade later for chicken. The flavor of the bread tasted good to me, but I’d imagine that stronger beers would carry more specific flavors into the final product. I would go with a mild beer if you typically don’t drink beer.
Cheddar-Herb Beer Bread:
- 2 2/3 c. self-rising flour
- 12 oz. can/bottle beer
- 4 T. sugar
- 1 tsp. chopped herbs
- 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter or baking spray.
2. Sift self-rising flour and sugar. Stir in the grated cheese.
3. Chop about 1 tsp. of your favorite herbs. I used a tiny sprig of fresh rosemary and a few sprigs of french thyme, picked fresh from my patio herb garden. Stir chopped herbs into the flour/cheese mixture.
Any herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or chives will do. You can probably use dried herbs, but I would cut back to about 1/2 tsp., and make sure you crush them with your fingers before adding to the flour.
4. Add one 12 oz. bottle or can of your favorite beer to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. (Do not over-mix or the bread will turn out tough instead of light and fluffy.)
5. Scrape the dough into the prepared loaf pan and smooth down out to the edges. Pour 1/4 c. melted butter over the top of the dough.
6. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, remove when done. Let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.
So in honor of my Math Teacher friends that I had lunch with that day, some basic math:
A 5 pound bag of flour has roughly 20 cups. So I could make this recipe about 7.5 times with my $1.79 bag of self-rising flour. That’s about $0.24 of flour per loaf. I buy unsalted butter for $1.99 per pound on sale, and store it in the freezer. So that’s about $0.25 worth of butter. The beer was $6.99 for a 6 pack ($1.17 per beer). I get a 2 pound chunk of (black label) Tillamook extra sharp Cheddar at Costco for about $10.00, which I then grate and store in 1 c. portions in the freezer in ziploc bags. It works out to about $0.77 per cup of grated cheese. The herbs were free, and the amount of sugar so minuscule that I won’t even factor it into the cost.
Total, $2.43 for my version, including the beer. Sure, if I bought the mix, it might have been a little bit easier. But how much effort does it take to put 2 2/3 cup of flour + a few spoons of sugar into a bowl? That’s essentially what was in the mix. Comparing my homemade version at $2.43 to the rip-off mix (plus cost of beer) at $8.16… I’m glad that I went the homemade route.