What made me think of beer bread? I can’t imagine. I was cooking a beef stew in the cast iron Dutch oven and heating some water to cook noodles.
“Beer bread,” I thought, “would really go well with this stew tonight”.
Beer bread, I believe became popular in the 1970s. One of the recipes I have on a 3×5” card was sent to me by a penpal and is dated 1979. I also think Beer Bread was one of the very first 3-ingredient recipes to make an appearance. Many recipes would follow until there are slews of cookbooks for 2-3-4-5 or even 6 ingredient recipes. I know because I have a lot of them on my bookshelves. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Beer Bread was one of the very first three ingredient recipes to become popular – and why not? There were only three ingredients – some self-rising flour, a little sugar, and a 12-ounce can of beer. I dug into my bread recipe file and whipped up a batch of beer bread. I tried it out on my youngest son last night and didn’t tell him it had beer in it until he had finished eating a big slice and declared it tasty. My curiosity was piqued so I began searching for other beer bread recipes.
One more thought about the beer bread which calls for self rising flour. I never buy self rising flour. I knew there had to be a way to convert regular all-purpose flour to self-rising and there is (Thank you, Google) – for each cup of flour called for in the recipe, remove 2 level teaspoons of flour and replace it with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon (1/2) of salt. Mix it up and you’re ready to go.
To make Victoria’s Beer Bread, you will need:
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 12-oz can beer
Mix all ingredients well. Pour into a buttered loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until done.
While digging through recipe boxes I found another beer bread recipe made with whole wheat flour – I am going to make this as soon as I get to Trader Joe’s to buy whole wheat flour.
To make Whole Wheat Beer Bread, you will need:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
4 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 12-oz can of beer
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan (Personally I prefer the spray can of Crisco that already has flour in it). In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Add the beer and stir until it becomes a stiff batter. If necessary mix the dough with your hands. Transfer dough to prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
In my file, I have one other beer bread recipe which is similar to Victoria’s – except for the addition of ½ cup butter or margarine. You make it the same way but melt the butter and pour half of it over the dough. Bake the loaf at 350 degrees 20 minutes, then pour the remaining butter over the loaf and continue baking another 40 minutes. (Truth is, since I have been on Weight Watchers, I tend to avoid recipes with too much fat or oils. Why add it if you don’t need it? But if you are feeling reckless or craving something special, why by all means add the melted butter. Personally I would rather toast the bread after it’s baked and then slather on some butter). Ok, a little bit of butter. Maybe some of my homemade jam.
I have one more Beer Bread recipe to share with you and you will notice that the basic ingredients are the same as the original recipe above – it just has a few added ingredients to make the bread more of a savory-type of bread. I am wondering how this would be made as a savory muffin and think I will give it a try the next time I feel like baking.
MEXI-STYLE BEER BREAD
3 cups self-rising flour*
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 12-oz can beer (any kind. Bob drinks Pabst so that’s what I used to make my beer bread)
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup canned green chile peppers, chopped
¼ cup finely diced red bell peppers
6 TBSP butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan (or spray it with Pam)
In a large bowl stir together all ingredients. Transfer batter to loaf pan and spread to make it even. Pour melted butter on top. Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Sandra’s Cooknote: *To convert 3 cups of regular flour to self-rising:
Measure 3 level cups of flour into a bowl.
Remove 6 level teaspoons of the flour (2 teaspoons for each cup) and put it back into the flour canister
Now add 4 ½ level teaspoons of baking powder (1 ½ teaspoons for each cup of the flour)
Then add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt (1/2 teaspoon salt for each cup of flour)
Your three cups of regular flour has now been converted to self rising flour. Or go buy a sack of self-rising flour.
The first thing I ever made, as a little girl (or to be more accurate, attempted to make) were some muffins. I think I was about 8 years old. I wanted to learn how to cook! My mother let me follow the recipe in her cookbook and mix the ingredients but told me to leave the yellow bowl on the table while I stirred. Oh, no, I had to hold onto it, put it in the crook of my arm, like I had seen her mix ingredients in the bowl. I dropped the bowl, it broke and I fled to my room in tears. I didn’t make muffins that day. It took about a year to save up enough money to replace the yellow bowl which was part of a Pyrex set; meantime I was not deterred from an interest in cooking and baking. I read through the pages of mom’s Ida Bailey Allen Service Cookbook, focusing primarily on cookies and muffin recipes. If we had all the necessary ingredients, I could make it. (We never went shopping just for certain ingredients; everything had to be on the shelves of my mother’s pantry). I made a lot of brownies and peanut butter cookies and muffins. To this day I love muffins and one of my favorites is cornmeal muffins.
To make cream-style corn muffins, you will need:
1 ½ cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
2 Tbsp shortening
1 cup cream style corn
Sift dry ingredients; beat egg and add corn, milk and shortening. Combine two mixtures, stirring just enough to dampen the flour. Fill greased* muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes.
*Sandra’s Cooknote: It may not be quite kosher but I almost always use paper cupcake liners whether I am making cupcakes or muffins. Then you always know that the muffins aren’t going to stick in the pan.)
Here is a very old recipe for making corn bread and if you prefer, you can use this recipe to make cornbread muffins. To make corn bread you will need:
2 cups cornmeal
½ tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP sugar
1 egg, well beaten
2 cup milk
¼ cup melted shortening
Combine all dry ingredients. Mix together with shortening, eggs and milk; don’t overbeat. Bake in a greased pan* 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Will make one dozen muffins.
*Sandra’s cooknote: Back in the day, I used to make cornbread and beans about once a month to satisfy the craving of my then-husband whose parents came from Bluefield West Virginia where corn bread and pinto beans were a staple on the dinner menu. Back then you just poured the cornmeal batter into an oiled cast-iron skillet. I think I could make cornbread with my eyes closed in those days—and I still cook with an assortment of cast iron skillets and a Dutch oven that are now over 50 years old. You can’t bean a well seasoned cast iron skillet for frying anything.
Here is another muffin recipe – this one originated at Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles. In 1946 when my parents flew to Los Angeles for the ABC Bowling Tournament, they enjoyed a meal at Clifton’s and my mother talked about it for years. Clifton’s is long gone but their Orange Muffin Recipe lives on:
To make Clifton’s Orange Muffins, you will need:
1 cup oil
6 2/3 cups flour
3 ½ cups sugar
6 TBSP baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
2 oranges, finely chopped (unpeeled)
3 cups milk
Beat the eggs 5 minutes. Slowly beat in oil. Continue to beat 1 minute. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture, chopped orange and milk to egg mixture. Mix until blended, then beat 2-3 minutes. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Brush with orange glaze while still warm. Makes about 4 ½ dozen.
To make orange glaze, you will need:
7 TBSP powdered sugar
2 ½ TBSP milk
1 tsp grated orange peel
Combine sugar, milk and orange peel until smooth. Brush over muffins while still warm.
*Sandra’s Cooknote: The above recipe appeared in the SOS column of the Los Angeles Times in 1981 – and YES, this recipe makes a lot of muffins. But back then, four dozen never seemed like too much if you were raising four sons and they were always bringing their friends home for dinner. I also took many, many containers of cookies and muffins and cupcakes to work to share with coworkers.
Before I close, I wanted to share one of my all time favorite muffin recipes. I love a muffin with oatmeal in it and I also love anything with a streusel topping (I keep a plastic container of streusel topping in the ‘frig so it’s one of those things I have on hand all the time).
Best Oatmeal Muffins
1/3 CUP oats, uncooked
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, chilled
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tsp salt (optional)
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 13 medium muffin cups with paper baking cups or lightly grease bottoms only. For streusel, combine dry ingredients; mix well. Cut in margarine (or butter) until mixture is crumbly; set aside. For muffins, combine dry ingredients; mix well. Add combined milk, oil and egg; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter, patting gently. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let muffins stand a few minutes; remove from pan. Makes 1 dozen.
Chocolate Surprise Muffins: increase sugar to 2/3 cup and add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to dry ingredients. Add 1 tsp almond extract to liquid ingredients. Fill muffin cups ½ full. Spoon 1 tsp cherry or raspberry preserves in center of each muffin; top with remaining batter. Omit streusel; sprinkle tops of cooled muffins with powdered sugar, if desired.
Cranberry Orange Muffins: Add 1 cup (8 oz) coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries and ½ cup chopped nuts to dry ingredients. Omit streusel. Drizzle Citrus Glaze over slightly cooled muffins: Mix together ¾ cup powdered sugar, 4 to 5 teaspoons orange juice and 1 teaspoon grated orange peel until smooth
Harvest Apple Muffins: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg to dry ingredients. Substitute apple juice for milk and stir 1 cup chopped apple into batter.
Carrot Spice Muffins: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to dry ingredients. Stir in 1 cup shredded carrots and ½ cup raisins with liquid ingredients. Omit streusel. Spread tops of baked, cooled muffins with cream cheese frosting: Mix together one 3-ounce package cream cheese, ½ cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth.
Ok, I sort of segued from beer bread to muffins; it must be these chilly winter days in the high desert; it makes me want to turn on the oven and start baking something every morning. Doesn’t warm bread baking in the oven on a cold morning smell just wonderful?
Happy Cooking – and baking!