Introduction: Garlic Beer Bread With Laser Cut Flour Stencil

About: Digital ninja.

Beer bread has been a favorite of mine since I was in elementary school.  It goes well with pasta, soups, sauces, makes great toast, yummy garlic bread, and can be turned into tasty stuffing if you can't manage to eat it before it becomes stale.  I feel this bread is a good way to become familiar with baking yeast breads in general because it is straightforward and an easy dough to work with (other breads with eggs for example can make kneading more strenuous). 

In this instructable I put a spin on my mother's version by substituting some white flour with whole wheat and using brown sugar instead of white.  I also show how you can stencil your breads using laser cut cardboard and make very intense garlic bread (for true garlic fans).

I have tried to include descriptive pictures and some tips for bread beginners.

Total time to make this bread is about 2 hours with some long opportunities to ignore it.   This recipe makes 2 Beer Bread loaves , one of which will be optionally converted to garlic bread.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients and Tools


4 1/2 - 5 Cups Unbleached white flour
1 1/2 Cups Wheat flour
2 Tbsp or 2 Packages Active Dry Yeast (Instant blend dry yeast)
1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups (12 oz.) Warm Beer (Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is my favorite)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pam Nonstick Spray


Mixing Bowl
Cutting Board
Wooden Spoon
Liquid Measuring Cup
Dry Measuring Cups (1 Cup, 1/2 Cup, 1/4 Cup)
Measuring Spoons
2 Cookie Sheets
Serrated Bread Knife

Optional Tools:

Laser Cut Stencil for flour (can also be hand cut)
Dough Scraper
Flour Shaker

Note:  High alcohol beers can interfere with the yeast and sometimes drastically impact the flavor of the bread with interesting results.  Experiment!

Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients

In a mixing bowl, combine the following and stir well.

1/2 Cups Unbleached white flour
1 1/2 Cups Wheat flour
2 Tbsp or 2 Packages Active Dry Yeast (Instant blend dry yeast)
1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Salt

Pro tip:  Measure salt over the sink and add it to the mixing bowl to avoid accidentally adding too much.

Step 3: Heat Liquids

In a saucepan, combine and heat the following over low heat to just under 120F:

1/2 Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups (12 oz.) Warm Beer
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Step 4: Awaken the Yeast

Wake up the yeast by pouring your warm beer, oil, and water over the dry ingredients.  Stir well for about 3 minutes.  You should reach a smooth batter-like consistency.

Step 5: Add Remaining Flour and Autolyse

Proceeding one cup at a time, add the remaining 3 cups of unbleached white flour until the batter forms into a soft dough.

Pro tip:  After mixing, leave the dough for about 10 minutes in a covered bowl.  This is a lazy way to autolyse your dough which makes it easier to work with when kneading.  You're supposed to autolyse before adding yeast and other ingredients beyond flour and water, but I found this lazier method fruitful.  I only recently learned this trick which can help retain moisture and requires less flour be added during the kneading process.

More info on autolysing here:

Step 6: Knead and Let It Rise

Flour your cutting board to prevent the dough from sticking.  Flop out the dough and flatten it out so you can fold it.  Fold the dough and press with the palm of your hand to combine the two layers.  Rotate 90 degrees, fold again, and repeat the palm press.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes at which point it will become more elastic and less sticky.  Add flour sparingly as you want to keep as much moisture as possible.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, form a ball and let it rise in a greased bowl covered with a plate or plastic wrap for about 1 hour .  I let mine rise for only about 45 minutes if the house is warm.

Step 7: Make the Garlic Butter

While you're waiting for the bread to rise, you can optionally whip up some garlic butter.

Garlic Butter Ingredients

1 Cup (1 stick) Soft Butter
1-2 Heads Garlic
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Peel as much garlic as you can handle.  Two heads of garlic make an intense loaf that garlic fans will love.  Use a grater or knife to cut the garlic into small pieces. 

Mix the garlic with butter until it's smooth.  Add the remaining garlic butter ingredients including the parmesan cheese and blend together.

Step 8: Punch It and Make Two Loaves

Spray two cookie sheets with nonstick spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Gently punch down the dough to release some of the air bubbles.  Divide the dough evenly into two pieces.  Squash out each half into a flat 7x11" rectangle (about the size of standard printer paper).   Roll each piece into a loaf starting with the long edge pinching with each turn.  Pinch the seams shut and tuck the ends under.

Place seam-side down on the pre-greased and cornmealed cookie sheet, cover in plastic, and let rise for about 30 minutes .

Step 9: Cut and Apply Laser Cut Flour Stencil

Make 3-5 diagonal cuts into each loaf.  Use a serrated bread knife.

Brush the tops lightly with olive oil. 

Tag your bread : put your stencil on top of each loaf and dust lightly with flour (the stencils shown were freshly laser cut from cardboard).  I will redesign my stencil to use larger lines and will find a finer mesh to distribute the flour more evenly.  Curving the stencil to fit the loaf will also help.

Step 10: Bake for 30 Minutes and Cool

Bake your loaves for 30-35 minutes at 375 F.  They should be golden brown.

Cool on wire racks for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Congratulations.  Admire your fine stencil work.

Step 11: Make Garlic Bread

Choose a loaf to convert to garlic bread and cut it in half.  Apply all of the Garlic Butter from Step 7 to both halves of one loaf.

Broil the garlic bread with the oven door ajar until it becomes browned and crispy.  I use a middle rack in the oven to prevent it from burning too quickly.

Note: In these photos I add the parmesan cheese separately, but it's best to add it to the butter mixture first (as described in Step 7).

Step 12: Cut, Serve, and Enjoy

Cut the bread into 2" strips with your serrated bread knife and enjoy.

As noted in the introduction, beer bread goes well with pasta, soups, sauces, makes great toast, and can be turned into tasty stuffing if you can't manage to eat it before it becomes stale.

Hope you will tag some breads and invite some garlic-loving friends.

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