Cooking with Lager: Cast-Iron Beer Bread

It’s like they belong together: one of the most food-friendly styles on the planet—Vienna lager—and the food whose ancient origins are comingled with beer’s own at the very roots of civilization.

Cast-Iron Beer Bread

Makes: 1 loaf

  • 3 cup (710 ml) bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 fl oz (118 ml) Vienna lager, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) plus 2 Tbs warm water
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1 Tbs large-flake salt or kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Mix well. Add the lager and water and mix just until the dough comes together, no more. Cover with plastic wrap, poke several holes in the wrap, and cover that with a damp towel. Place in a cool, dry place for 12 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Place the dough on a piece of parchment and place that into a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm place to allow the dough to double in size.

While the dough is proofing, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C). Place a cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat up.

When the oven has preheated and the skillet is hot, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Pick up the dough by the parchment paper and place into the hot skillet. Score the top of the bread with a knife. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven, brush with the melted butter, sprinkle with salt, and cool.

Beer Tasting Notes: It’s like they belong together—one of the most food-friendly styles on the planet, and the food whose ancient origins are comingled with beer’s own at the very roots of civilization, when people first settled down to domesticate grains. Vienna lager often has a bread-crust flavor, too, with a sweetness that varies but is best when restrained and in balance with a drying herbal bitterness. It’s right at home in this uncommon preparation—the cast iron adds deeper crust and Maillard reactions that harmonize with Vienna lager’s own lightly caramelized malt flavors.

Beer Suggestions: Devils Backbone Vienna Lager (Roseland, Virginia); Dovetail Vienna Lager (Chicago); Grains of Wrath Vienna Lager (Camas, Washington); Starr Hill Jomo (Crozet, Virginia).

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