Just in time for Australia Day! This is super quick and easy (no need to kneed, you can use whatever cheese you have, the ingredients are flexible) and sure to be appreciated with any Australia Day feast you’re cooking or attending.
Why beer? Beer isn’t something I usually (ever!) add as an ingredient in cooking (and I don’t drink it either), however it’s great in this recipe for a few reasons:
- It provides the typical bready ‘yeasty’ aroma (both when you’re preparing the mix, and it is cooking) and flavour.
- It adds carbonation, which helps ‘fluff up’ the bread.
- Is a little nod to Aussies’ hard earned thirst* on Australia Day.
Yeast is crucial in the fermentation process which makes a dense bread dough rise over time. But most ‘quick breads’ (such as this) actually rise from baking powder (hence the need to use either self-raising flour, or add baking powder to plain flour). Although beer is made with yeast, most commercial beers don’t contain living yeast organisms (due to the pasteurization process, which kills the yeast cells, or they are often filtered out before bottling). So the yeast from the beer doesn’t actually assist this recipe the way we might think.
You can really put any other flavours/textures in it (herbs, nuts, seeds, roast veges, etc), but to keep it simple I just use cheese, shallots and fennel seeds. And serve it with butter as a side to our BBQ meats and salads.
Inspired by an old post by Not Quite Nigella.
Makes 1 standard small-medium loaf
- 2⅔ cups self-raising flour (I use gluten free. If you don’t have self-raising flour, you can use plain flour but add 1 Tbsp baking powder)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 x 330mL bottle or can of VB (or any beer with a low alcohol content or gluten free beer if you prefer) – If you are using gluten free flour, you will need to add more beer and/or water to the batter. Keep adding until it is just runny enough to pour into the baking tin.
- ¾ cup chopped shallots (use both the white and green parts. Can substitute with red onion or chives if you prefer or already have these on hand)
- ¾ cup grated cheese (any type will work – I usually use a mixture of mozzarella, vintage cheddar and parmesan as this is what I usually have in the fridge)
- 1½ Tbsp fennel seeds (optional, but fennel seeds REALLY work with anything cheesy)
This recipe is forgiving to allow up to half a cup of additional ingredients to flavour it. Some ideas are
- cooked, diced bacon, ham, semi/sun-dried tomatoes, roast capsicum, roasted nuts, pumpkin / sunflower / sesame seeds, mixed herbs, etc.
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C.
- Line a 9 inch loaf tin (or similar) with baking paper.
- Combine flour, (and baking powder if using plain), salt and fennel seeds in a large mixing bowl, then add beer and stir until combined.
- Add the shallots and cheese, (and any other ingredients up to ½ cup) and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter in your loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown and crispy.
- Cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes. If you’re baking this close to guests arriving, or just before you leave to take to another party, wrap the load in a tea towel to keep it warm and fragrant.
- When ready to serve, slice with a sharp bread knife (as the top will be quite crispy).
*According to marketers, “…for a hard-earned thirst, Australians need a big cold beer. And the best cold beer is Vic – Victoria Bitter”.
(Click the video above to watch the VB televisions commercials between 1968 and 1996.)