Posts Tagged baking with beer

Saint Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

Guinness Cupcakes 3

Guinness Cupcakes - perfect for St. Patrick's Day. Or any day.

I’ll admit, I’ve never done that much for St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, my mother would festoon the dining room with green clover garlands and chocolate “gold” pieces around the holiday each year when I was little, given our Irish heritage. And I’ve gone out to a couple of Irish bars on the holiday. And there was that one memorable Saint Patrick’s Day during college at Earl’s on the Ave (the old one) with a bunch of blue drinks and my friend Sara. But let’s not talk about that.

It may be a holiday that has garnered little of my attention, but I think that Saint Patrick’s Day is due for a second look. Not because it celebrates a certain Irish Saint, but because it’s an opportunity to bake with beer.

Everyone should bake with beer. I’m just going to put that out there. Baking with beer is awesome. It adds a smoky, almost savory note to baked goods that’s a lovely compliment to sugar. It’s an excellent addition to bread recipes – just replace the water or liquid called for with an equal amount of beer. And dark beers like stouts or porters go exceptionally well with chocolate.

These Guinness cupcakes with Guinness glaze take advantage of the dark beer/chocolate pairing. The smoky flavor of the Guinness helps balance the sweetness of the cake, and brings out the cocoa in the cake. It also contrasts with the sugar in the glaze, which keeps the cake soft and sweet. The only problem I had with the cake is that it turned out exceptionally moist – maybe even a little gummy in the center. I guess a quest for a perfect cake is never really done. But baking with beer? That’s a quest that I’m happily convinced will never be done – there’s just too many things to experiment with.

Guiness Cupcakes 2

Love that you can see the bubbles from the beer in the frosting.

Recipe: St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes


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Rustic Guinness Bread

Guinness Bread

I still haven't drunk all that Guinness . . .

I still have a lot of beer left over from last month’s beer baking binge, and I haven’t really been in the mood to drink lately. I think I’m too busy with all these various baking projects, blogger get togethers, and early morning choir performances. Or maybe it’s that I’m watching too much Mad Men – watching people who are always drunk, or hungover, makes sobriety much more attractive.

This weather has also put me in the mood to bake, so I put two and two together and made some Guinness bread this weekend. I was also inspired by my chat with Tiffany MacIssac, the Pastry Chef at Birch and Barley, who’s been incorporating beer into their breads and desserts. I decided to use the basic hearth bread recipe from The Bread Bible, which Rose Beranbaum suggests as a good basic recipe to use for adaptations.

The beer in this bread is a subtle flavoring – it gives it a slightly more bitter, darker flavor, and a honey-colored crumb. To counteract the smoky, bitter flavor of the Guinness, I upped the amount of honey in the dough, which gave the bread a mellow sweetness. You can’t really tell that the bread uses Guinness, but the beer definitely gives the bread a subtle depth of flavor that I liked quite a bit. Because this loaf uses bread flour, which has a higher protein content than regular flour, the bread is satisfyingly chewy, with a crisp crust and light texture.

This bread is good toasted in thick slices with a good slathering of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt. Or top it with goat cheese, arugula, and Prosciutto for a quick open-faced sandwich. And it’s refined enough that you can enjoy a slice with some cheese and a glass of wine. Or your favorite craft brew. Or even a Bud Light, if that’s what you prefer. I don’t judge.

Guinness Bread - Inside

My favorite way to eat this bread is toasted and topped with a fried egg. I'm classy like that.

Recipe: Rustic Guinness Bread

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October Baking Project, Take One: Chocolate Guinness Oreos

Guinness Oreos 1

These were meant to be.

A couple weeks ago I attended a “Blogtoberfest” meeting – the brainchild of the Orr Shtuhl, the Young and Hungry Beerspotter. The idea behind Blogtoberfest is to inspire DC bloggers – foodie and otherwise – to write about beer this October. Not just odes to craft brews — which is a little hard to do if, like me, you’re not a hard-core beer fanatic — but our personal stories about beer, food, and culture.

While I was certainly inspired to think about beer and culture (and will have an upcoming post on that subject), what I really pondered after that meeing is how I could bake with beer. What is the intersection between beer and pastry? Beer and dessert?

And with that, my October cooking/baking project was born – baking with beer.

This is actually a tricky little project, as this is new territory for me. I don’t know beer particularly well (besides my favorite brews), and I tend to stay to tried and true flavor combinations in my baking projects. There is, shall we say, an ample opportunity for grossness. But also, I think, for greatness. We shall see.

My first project uses Guinness, which is an easy one – there are recipes for Guinness cake all over the place. Buzz Bakery is celebrating Octoberfest with Guinness cupcakes, and the Internet Food Association featured a lovely Chocolate Stout Cake as one of their “food porn” photos. But I didn’t just want to make any old cake – that seemed too mundane. No. I wanted cookies. Specifically, I wanted to see if I could make my own boozy version of the handmade upscale Oreos that Tim Carman poo-pooed on the Young and Hungry blog.

Ever since I saw those cookies, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Think of it – smoky chocolate cookies enclosing a layer of chocolate and Guinness buttercream frosting. It may be too “upscale” for some, but I think that’s a cookie experience worth pursuing.

After a great deal of searching, I finally found a chocolate shortbread cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but left out an egg and substituted some Guinness. I made the filling through trial and error – I tried to adapt a Martha Stewart chocolate frosting recipe, but had much better luck going with my own instincts and coming up with my own recipe. Recipe testers – take note: make sure the Guinness is at room temperature before you add it to the frosting! Otherwise very bad things will happen. Very, very bad things.

In general, I was pretty pleased with these cookies. I’m not sure if the chocolate cookies really needed the Guinness flavoring – the flavor doesn’t come through very well in the final cookie and it ultimately seemed unnecessary. But I was very pleased with the chocolate filling – it has a nice smoky, chocolatey, sweet thing going on that I really liked. The Guinness really added something to the frosting, which I can’t say for the cookies.

Many thanks to the good people of the Adams Morgan Listserv, who took these off my hands. Bake sales might be banned in New York City, but it seems that baked goods are still very popular in the good old District of Columbia. People of Adams Morgan – you give me faith that there is still a place for baking in modern society.

Guinness Oreos 3


Recipe: Chocolate Guinness Oreos

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