Portuguese Beer Bread

Portuguese Beer BreadThis Portuguese Beer Bread has a nice, full and slightly bitter malty taste from the Porter and molasses. It is a great foil for clam chowder or other creamy soups or just slathered (don’t you love that word) with a bit of sweet fresh butter.

Makes 2 medium sized loaves.

Portuguese Beer Bread

  • 2 cups of lukewarm Porter or other dark beer that you like
  • 1/2 ounce or two packages active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons organic molasses or Steen’s dark ribbon cane syrup if you can find it
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour- I use King Arthur Organic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 4 cups AP flour, plus more for kneading board

Portermolassesmisenplace beer bread

Warm the beer to lukewarm (feels neither cold nor hot to your finger- just slightly warm) and add the molasses or cane syrup and half the yeast. Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes) and then sprinkle remainder of the yeast over. You should see a big bloom of yeast happen at that point.

it's alivePlace into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or if you don’t have a mixer you can beat with a wooden spoon) and add the whole wheat flour and the olive oil. Mix thoroughly and then add the salt in and the AP flour by cupfuls just until a stiff dough forms. It should be elastic which means it should pull back into place when you stretch it. Don’t expect to be able to do a “window pane” test as there is too high a percentage of whole wheat to white in this recipe. It will be slightly shaggy like this:

beer bread out of mixer

Remove the dough to a kneading surface sprinkled with another 1/2 cup of flour. Knead well for around five minutes until it becomes smooth and satiny more like this:

bear bread post kneadClean the mixing bowl just so there are no dry bits of dough remaining and coat lightly with more olive oil. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn it around in there to coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put a clean dish towel over it and leave it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch it down and let rise again, covered the same way.

rising beer breadWhen doubled again, remove it to a slightly floured surface and divide the dough into 6 pieces without deflating it entirely. In other words be somewhat gentle. Roll each piece of the dough gently into a long rope of about 15 inches. Braid three together and then coil the braid into a round, turning under and pinching the ends together. Repeat with the other three. This will make two loaves.

beer bread two loaves

Place them on a large baking sheet (or two if you don’t have a full sized sheet) and cover loosely with plastic wrap then top with the dish towel. Let rise until doubled again, about an half hour to an hour. Preheat your oven during this time so it is fully hot to 475F. Place an empty shallow metal baking pan on the bottom of your oven to preheat with the oven. Place some water into a spray bottle or a small bowl with a pastry brush. Remove the plastic wrap and mist the loaves right before you place the sheets with them into the oven. Throw 4-5 ice cubes into the preheated empty baking pan to create steam and close the oven door quickly. Mist the loaves again after 5 minutes and again at 10 and again at 15 minutes. Then leave to bake for another 20 minutes or until baked through and hollow sounding when thumped on the bottom. They will be a lovely deep  golden brown. Let cool on a baking rack but this bread tastes great warm or toasted.

Crumb Portuguese Beer BreadThis is a view of the crumb of an end piece.

Enjoy warm with some lovely homemade clam chowder or toast to make a yummy chicken salad sandwich with these.




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Robert May’s French Bread with the Bread Baking Babes

rick holding loafThis month I am once again baking along with the Bread Baking Babes and Friends, that lovely group of intrepid bakers who choose a bread to bake together each month.  I joined their page on Facebook many months ago but so much time goes along and often I miss out on baking the recipe before the due date.

bee and irises bread

This month I wanted to join in as Ilva of Lucullian Delights has chosen a recipe adapted from Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery”, 1977. Ms. David one of my favorite food writers of all time and I have been a fan of Ilva too for many years. Within Elizabeth David’s book is a recipe for Robert May’s French Bread from his book The Accomplisht Cook; Or, The Art and Mystery of Cooking from 1660.
Ilva also challenged the group to decorate the loaves as the recipe is quite simple and easy. The ones I have seen are gorgeous! Check out the BBB members here:

Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
Bread Experience – Cathy


bee and flower

Here is the recipe as given by Ilva my notes are in pink:

from Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery, 1977. (I have adapted her recipe a little, not the ingredient list but the directions.)

500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheat-meal (King Arthur organic whole wheat)
15 g/ 0.5 oz of yeast (fresh) (active dry yeast for me- 15g equals about 2 packets)
2 egg whites
280-340 g/ 0.5 pint to 12 oz water and milk, preferably 3/4 water and 1/4 milk (warm to lukewarm in a saucepan)
15 g/ 0.5 oz salt (I always use less salt than suggested in bread recipes and did so this time as well, I know that Elizabeth used 10 g and I suggest you do that too) (I used 10g too)

Warm flour and salt in a very tepid oven. (You can skip this but I did it)

Pour in the yeast creamed in a little of the warmed milk and water mixture. Add the egg whites, beaten in a small bowl until they are just beginning to froth. Pour in the remaining milk (but not all at once like I did, I had to add more flour to get the right consistency). Mix as for ordinary bread dough.

Leave to rise until spongy and light. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of the ingredients when the dough as mixed.

Break down the dough, divide it into two round loaves-or long rolls if you prefer. (I made one round loaf). I covered it with a round bowl but Elizabeth David recommends covering the bread with plastic or a light cloth and leave it to recover volume. About 30 minutes should be enough. If you plan to decorate the bread like I did, don’t forget to put aside a part of the dough.

Decorate crust with cuts or with dough decorations. Bake in a pre-heated oven (230°C/450°F) for the first 15 minutes. Then to prevent the crust to get too hard, cover the loaves with bowls or an oval casserole. In another 15 minutes the loaves should be ready.


I followed all of Ilva’s suggestions and my loaf turned out deliciously. I baked it on my baking stone and covered it as suggested with a stainless steel bowl.  I chose to decorate with fleur de lys and a wee bee. It made me think of a French garden.

crumb robert mays french bread



Thanks for reading, and thanks to Ilva for a lovely challenge and to the Babes and Buddies for letting me jump in here and there with a bake-along.  🙂

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