Monday, November 7, 2011

Spicy Chili-Cheese Beer Bread

Spicy Chile-Cheese Beer Bread
I was seriously craving some homemade bread yesterday but had only a two-hour window of time to bake, so what did I do?  I turned to an old beer-bread recipe that requires no yeast or rising time, and jazzed it up with some dried de arbol chilies and sharp NY white cheddar cheese.  You could probably substitute other dried chiles and vary the amount so as to change the heat level to suit your taste.  The 8 de arbol chiles made the bread about a medium in heat, by bread standards.  And feel free to use a different cheese, such as Monterey Jack or pepper jack, or even hoop cheese.  The beer you select will make a noticeable difference in the taste, so choose a beer you enjoy drinking.  I used a bottle of Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest.  Very important:  You need to add the full bottle of beer to the recipe, so no sipping (at least not from that bottle)!

Dried De Arbol Chilies
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use half whole-wheat and half white, for a heartier bread)
3 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 to 8 dried hot chiles such as de arbol
4 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
1 12-oz bottle beer
1 egg, beaten

Diced sharp NY cheddar
Soak the dried chilies in hot water for a few minutes to soften, then drain and coarsely chop or cut with kitchen shears.  While the chilies are soaking, start preheating the oven at 375° F and combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the cheese and chopped chiles, then pour in the beer and stir until just combined (the dough will be somewhat stiff and dry-looking).  Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead just enough to form a ball.  Place on a baking sheet and use a sharp knife to slit an X across the top of the bread.  Brush the top with the beaten egg, then place baking sheet on the lower-middle rack of your oven.

Interior view
Bake at 375° F for about 1 hour or until the loaf turns golden brown.  Remove bread from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool for several minutes before slicing.  Enjoy plain or with your favorite savory spread.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  When I made this recipe yesterday, I removed the bread from the oven after only 50 minutes and it was slightly under-done (see interior view photo on right).  Interestingly, the toothpick I had inserted to test for doneness had come out clean, which is why I assumed the bread was done baking in under an hour as it normally would be without the cheese and chilies.  If you make this bread recipe at home, please leave a comment here to let us know how long you baked it for, and also whether you made any modifications to the ingredients.

PPS:  I made this recipe again but used sharp yellow cheddar, milder dried Ancho chiles (two large ones), and a hefty doppelbock (Weeping Radish Christmas  Bier), and baked the bread for just a couple of minutes over an hour.  The bread came out perfectly cooked, darker in color (see photo on left) and with a more pronounced, earthier beer flavor.  In addition to being less spicy than the De Arbol chiles, the Ancho chiles were also a little sweeter, which provided a pleasant contrast to the sharper cheese and heartier beer flavor.  Feel free to experiment with other chile, beer and cheese combinations, and leave a comment with your results.


  1. My "ball" kinda flattened out so I shut it down after 54 min. Perfect!!

  2. Hi Rod,
    Thanks for your comment, and I'm glad the bread turned out well for you! My oven seems to be flaking out on me: I baked some cornbread today and once again it took about 10 minutes longer than it used to. But today I was more patient.

    Be on the lookout for a bacon-cheddar cornbread recipe later this month, once I finish tweaking it.

    Zestfully yours,

  3. Chili

    4 words that go perfectly together in a food.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I am not exactly sure how long I baked it, but it turned out beautiful and delicious! I used jalapenos instead of the dried chiles.

    Here's how it turned out:

  5. Hi Ann,

    You're most welcome, and thanks for sharing your jalapeno version! Your photos are gorgeous. That's one variation I plan on adding to my rotation. Next week I'm making this recipe again but will use dried ancho chiles. Another idea I've had is to substitute oat flour for half of the flour. Thanks again for trying my recipe and for sharing yours! You're welcome here anytime :-)

    Zestfully yours,