Friday, May 13, 2011

Jalapeño Beer Bread

I love my job for so many reasons. As a researcher, no two days are alike. Admittedly, there are tasks that can be routine, but apart from those necessary evils, I get to be pretty creative in designing ways to understand complex biological pathways with great relevance to human health. I also love that I get to listen to some of the best ongoing research, both at my own institute as well as from around the world. But most of all, I love working with my colleagues and mentors. I consider myself lucky to be in the company of so many brilliant scientists, many of whom have also become dear friends. Additionally, I have a hypothesis that many of the same qualities that make one a good scientist – attention to detail, precise note-keeping, being amenable to trial and error, and ultimately wanting to share your ideas and creations – are also the same qualities that make one a good cook. In light of this fact, and given my own laziness in updating this blog, I thought that I'd offer one of my multi-talented colleagues, Dr. Aaron Jacobs, the dubious honor of being the first guest blogger on Clean Platter. Aaron has brought in many delicacies to share with us, but the one that I request most frequently is his Jalapeño Beer bread. I once asked Aaron if this bread keeps well if made ahead of time, and his response was that he had never had a chance to test that out -- once you make a batch, it is generally rapidly devoured. I can say that I have had a chance to test this theory and have found it to hold up time and again!

So, without further ado, here's Aaron sharing with us his recipe for an absolutely delicious Jalapeño Beer Bread that's great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anytime in between.


Jalapeño Beer Bread by Aaron Jacobs

First off, I'd like to thank Harini for the chance to write a guest blog. I've enjoyed her friendship and her food long enough to be flattered when one of my recipes wins her approval. The recipe I'd like to share with you is "Les' Beer Bread." It was first shown to me during college, about ten years ago, by my good friend and roommate Les Fletcher. While I wouldn't say that I was a bad cook at the time, I was definitely afraid of cooking. We had a dining hall where the food wasn't THAT bad, and Les and I both had college-student- budgets that wouldn't allow for frivolous experimentation with food that might turn out worse than our meal plans. We found baking to be exceedingly unforgiving, and unless it was premade biscuits or frozen pizza, we rarely made use of our oven.

As our first year drew to a close we each found ourselves summer positions that were on campus, but didn't have meal plans. This meant our dining hall crutch was gone and we were on our own. As is often the case, there comes a point when you get tired of prepared foods and crave something from home. Since Les was from Texas, when he craved home-cooked food it had to either be barbecued or somehow flavored by beer. I'm not sure if his beer bread recipe came from his parents or if he developed it based on a loose childhood memory, but as soon as we tried it, we knew it was a hit.

The key is self-rising flour, which allows you to be as creative as you like without producing an inedible brick. This ended much of our angst over experimentation and made both of us much better cooks. (It also demonstrated for me the one invariable truth of baking- butter makes everything better.) I won't bore you with the details of adding goodies to the bread. It's great "as-is". It's even better with some herbs (choose your own adventure- I'll often do oregano/parsley). But it is fantastic with some cheddar and jalapeños. The beer brand doesn't matter and you will be just as successful with a Budweiser as a nice microbrew (although you DO need to figure out how to use the rest of your six-pack). The butter helps brown the crust nicely, and your unsuspecting recipients of the loaf won't know that the heel is the best part. (You can take a heel when you first cut the bread and you not only get the tastiest morsels, but you look humble and considerate to boot!) Just remember to share this loaf with several friends. I haven't done any calorie counting on the recipe, but it can't be healthy to eat more than a few slices, and it is highly addictive. Enjoy!

3 c. Self rising flour

1 can Beer (warm)

5 T. Sugar

¼ c. Butter

½ c. Cheddar (optional)

1 Jalapeño, diced (optional)

Herb medley (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a bread pan. Mix flour, beer, and sugar. Add any accessory ingredients- dough will be thick. Bake for 35 min (until lightly browned), then drizzle with melted butter and bake an additional 10 min. Let cool and pry out with a knife.


A few notes: If, like me, you don't have self-rising flour on hand, you can make your own by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 C of all-purpose flour.

I recently made this bread with 1 C whole-wheat flour and 2 C all-purpose flour (with 41/2 tsp. baking powder and 11/2 tsp salt). This bread was slightly denser, but equally delicious.

I've generally used a mix of dried oregano, thyme, and sage as my herb medley. For a bit more heat, I also add some crushed red pepper flakes to the melted butter before drizzling it over the top of the bread.


  1. Thanks Harini for this post! am making this during the weekend or sooner!

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I am excited to try this soon and will let you know how it turns out. Ameet was pleasantly surprised when I asked him "Do we have beer at home" :)

  3. Thanks gals! Soumya, I hope you end up liking this bread -- it has become a staple at our home.

  4. Who would have thought beer can be flexible to use in bread? I read lots of recipes with beers, but only in sauce and marinade for steak or other meats. This is definitely something new for me, and I can't wait to try it. >> Corey Glenn @