Beer bread

Beer bread

How to Cook Bread
1 small loaf
Peter Cassidy

This bread is perfect to enjoy with cheese, for a simple ploughman’s lunch, or served in chunks with a hearty soup or stew. You will need a 450–500g loaf tin.


Quantity Ingredient
30g butter
1 teaspoon soft light brown sugar
175ml brown ale
10g fresh yeast
1 tablespoon tepid water
125g wholemeal flour
125g strong plain white flour, plus extra to dust
1 teaspoon salt
1 small egg


  1. Use a little of the butter to grease the loaf tin, then put the remainder in a small saucepan with the sugar and ale. Place over a medium to high heat, stir to melt the sugar and butter into the liquid, then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to tepid.
  2. Put the yeast in a bowl, add the tepid water and mix to a loose paste.
  3. Sift the flours and salt into a large bowl. Reserve 1 tsp of the bran from the sieve for the top of the loaf and tip the rest into the bowl with the flours.
  4. Break the egg into a small bowl and beat lightly, then add it to the flours. Add the yeast mixture and three quarters of the ale and butter mixture. Mix first with a cutlery knife and then with your fingers, adding enough of the reserved ale mixture to make a soft but not sticky dough.
  5. Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for about 5–8 minutes until smooth and elastic, using as little extra flour as possible on the work surface to stop the dough sticking.
  6. Place the dough in a very lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly oiled cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. Transfer the risen dough to the work surface and knock it back, kneading it for 2–3 minutes. Lightly oil the loaf tin.
  8. Shape the dough into a loaf and place smooth side up in the prepared loaf tin. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove until risen by at least half its size again. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  9. Sprinkle the reserved bran over the top of the loaf and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until golden brown and it feels light and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

A note on using beer...

  • Beer lends a unique, slightly sour taste to bread. The darker beer you use, the darker the bread and the stronger the flavour of the bread will be.


  • To make rosemary and fig bread, replace the ale with 175ml milk, brought to scalding point and cooled to tepid before using. Knead 200g sliced dried figs and 1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary into the dough when knocking it back, then shape the dough as a round or oval loaf on an oiled baking sheet. Place olive oil soaked sprigs of rosemary on top before baking (as for focaccia) and drizzle with a little honey when it first comes out of the oven.
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