Monday, September 16, 2013

The Tale of the Bread -- Healthier Pumpkin Beer Bread with Bourbon Butter

So, let me tell you the story of this beer bread.

Once upon a time, I discovered that beer bread is incredibly easy to make. Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, beer. Bake, and you're done. The bread is great as a dinner side, or made into French Toast or bread pudding, and so easy to prep that bored grandmas put together beer bread gift baskets to sell at craft fairs with all the dry ingredients and beer in a lovely gift basket type situation (seriously I ALWAYS see them there!). So, I picked up a growler from my favorite Boston brewery, made a few loaves, fell in love with the flavor and the process, and even hinted that I'd be posting the recipe soon:

Remember this?
Then, for whatever reason, I forgot. I think that series of pictures is still on an external drive somewhere--along with a cherry chocolate pie and homemade granola--waiting to be edited, waiting to be posted, but probably never will be because this was before I discovered macro lenses and the wonders of natural light... heh. And so a year passed and here I am again, at the beginning of Fall, wanting to bake things again, and with my favorite pumpkin beer on the shelves, inspiration hit again.

I had it in my head that I was going to make this sucker gluten free. I even bought gluten free flour!--frickin $12 gluten free flour--But then, upon gathering my ingredients I realized I was missing a very obvious point:

Beer is not gluten-free. Nope. Not even a little bit. And pumpkin gluten free beer was nowhere to be found.

I've been so good at cutting out gluten lately, that this realization was kind of a bummer. My personal trainer (just discovered my gym gives me 6 free sessions, woo!) suggested I stick to a mostly-paleo diet while trying to lose weight, so I've really been trying lately to at least be 90-10 about the whole thing, allowing for a cheat day once a week. The beer bread was a challenge.

So what do we do?---we compromise. I figured if I couldn't make this totally gluten-free, at least I'd try to health-ify it a little bit. I used alternative flours and tried to add a bit of fiber and cut down on the sugar. The result is a denser, but still delicious, pumpkin beer bread. Success!--even if I can't eat much of it on my current diet...

Now, let me tell you about the bourbon butter.

Remember my Drunken Apples? My grand plan was to make bourbon whipped cream to top them with. Extra alcohol, extra fun!, right? Unfortunately, life had other plans. Like the fact that my only whipping cream was shelf-stable Trader Joes kind, and I didn't realize it needed to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours. So I did the Pinterest Trick where you wrap it in a wet paper towel and freeze for ten minutes. Although the package was cardboard and not glass, it seemed to do the trick.

Then, I had the brilliant idea to make the cream "stretch" by adding some light cream I had for another recipe. Surely THAT would work, right?

Eh, not so much. Somehow, I went from sugary-creamy-alcohol-mixture to butter. No whipped cream in the middle. Maybe it was the cream debacle, maybe it was the bourbon curdling the cream, who knows. But, I knew the beer bread was on deck for a recipe, and just as I predicted: they were a match made in heaven.

Me at The Kitchen Garden Chilifest!
Check back to see what I've been eating lately, I'm due for a round-up post soon!

Healthier Pumpkin Beer Bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 heaping tbs pumpkin pie spice (or, equal amounts ground clove, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and two parts cinnamon, mixed together and portioned out to one heaping tablespoon)
  • 3 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs sugar or 1 tsp stevia
  • 1 bottle pumpkin beer (I used Shipyard, feel free to use your own favorite or any kind of beer for a different flavor!)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a bread pan.

-Mix together all dry ingredients until well blended. Add in maple syrup and beer, and mix until batter is sticky (there will be lumps).

-Pour or spoon batter into bread pan and cover with melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Accidental Bourbon Butter
(use my frantic method above, or the one I mention here, which probably will work better)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (plus 1/2 cup light cream?)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp bourbon

-Blend or whip together all ingredients with a hand mixer. If you make it to the whipped cream stage, keep whipping until the solids and liquids separate.

-When the mixture is chunky, pour through a colander that has been lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Gently squeeze out all excess liquid. Spoon butter out of the cloth and into an airtight container. Refrigerate until firm.


  1. I love beer bread and pumpkin beer season is my favorite of the beer seasons! This recipe sounds amazing.

  2. I love the idea of using a flavored beer in beer bread. I'm so used to the traditional kind or beer cheese bread. Actually pumpkin beer cheese bread sounds awesome too.

  3. This looks amazing, and I love how you made it healthier! :)

  4. Pretty creative! I'm not a beer drinker but you're inspiring me to try mkaing some non-sweet pumpkin bread!

  5. Yum yum yum!!! And I love the idea of accidental bourbon butter :)


  6. I was just in Maine for the first time and visit the Shipyard Brewery for the free tour and tasting! Their beer is fantastic!! I love their pumpkin ale, but I love their smashed pumpkin even more! Great utilization of a fantastic beer!

  7. I have never heard if pumpkin beer. Culturally deprived, I guess. Now I will have to buy some, just to try it. And then I can make some of your bread with it. Good plan. Thank you.

    1. Where do you live?? Fall is ALL about the pumpkin beer here.

  8. Butter is never an accident. At least not a bad one. Especially BOURBON BUTTER. Swoon.

  9. yes! I love making beer bread! I really is so easy and always a hit!

  10. Yum! Beer and bread - genius. Love the bourbon butter too. Sounds addictive.

  11. Lovely pics of your great bread - I like the ides of adding a nice bottle of pumkin beer to your bread - there are so many new artisinal beers avaiable now that it is a wonderful idea to use some of these "surprising" flavors in your baking!

  12. Haha, only a food blogger would "accidentally" make bourbon butter! Nice little slip-up there. This combo sounds great!

  13. Pumpkin beer bread + bourbon butter = all the things that make Susan happy! Also I've been hearing everyone praise Shipyard as the best pumpkin beer. That good? I generally stick with Brooklyn Post Road as my pumpkin ale of choice.

  14. Haha. Aww. Well I love what you came up with despite not being able to make it gluten free!

    I'm not gluten free but I love baking with almond flour and coconut flour. And the rest of the time I do whole wheat. So I'm all over this recipe. :)