Bread is truly one of the most amazing foods on earth. Not only does it come in so many different forms – yeast breads, flat breads, pizza, quick breads – but it literally has endless variations based on regional cultures and ingredients. I never cease to be amazed, fascinated and enthralled with this food item. And I am always so excited to find a new one, especially one as quick and easy to make as this.
Eve of The Garden of Eating posted Cheddar Dill Beer Bread a few weeks ago and I knew that recipe would not languish long in my to-do pile. Although cheddar cheese rarely finds its way into my refrigerator (yes, despite the fact that my mother is a defacto “cheddar-head” having been born and raised in Wisconsin), this bread would be worth buying some just to make it. Since I was feeling impatient, I made it with muenster and some already grated romano that needed to be used up, but I trust Eve’s suggestion that the sharp cheddar is the best choice.
What I really love about this recipe (besides the lighting-fast preparation) is the endless variations. Add a different cheese and toss in some other fresh herb – rosemary and Gruyere, Gorgonzola and oregano – even adding some dried fruits that pair with savory foods such as apricots with a Belgian beer or fennel and sage. It has the potential for getting a bit kooky, but that’s what cooking is all about, experimentation!
While at its best warm from the oven, it would also make great toast with a roasted or creamy vegetable soup. Make it before you start the soup and they will be done at the same time.
Quick Cheese and Dill Beer Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons dried)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup finely grated cheese (cheddar, muenster, swiss)
12 ounces (1 small bottle) beer (not flat, nor a dark beer like a stout)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8 inch loaf pan (or I used my 8 inch round corning ware dish). Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking power, baking soda, dill, caraway seeds and cheese in large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix until just combined; batter will be thick. Scrape into greased baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then remove from the pan and cool additional 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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