Beer Brunch

Pumpkin pie, turkey with all the fixings or a glazed ham, cold evenings by the fire with wool blankets, gingerbread cookies, and winter ale. There are so many lovely things about fall and winter to be had. Wonderful big family dinners aside, the humble brunch is my new favorite way to welcome guests and enjoy the darker days of the season with friends. I find after holidays, I always have a few extra beers to use up, a lot of leftovers to eat, and some friends or family I didn’t get to see because we all had so many things going on. My solution? Day-after brunch featuring delicious baked goodies to warm up the house and a tasting lineup of homebrews and pastries. Here are some of my favorite dishes for such occasions.

Pumpkin Ale Fry Bread

We love this one served with scrambled eggs, roasted peppers, and basil, or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I like to make it with pumpkin ale or winter ale, but you could substitute any ale you brew. Makes 8–10.

Ingredients for starter
1⁄3 cup room-temperature beer (pumpkin or other malty ale) 
1⁄2 cup bread flour
pinch of instant yeast

Ingredients for dough
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1⁄3 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp. pumpkin or squash puree (I like the additional flavor, but alternately you can sub an egg yolk)
2-3 cups rice bran or vegetable oil (for frying)

Step by Step
1. To make the starter, mix the three ingredients together in a medium bowl at least an hour before you plan to make the fry bread. Cover loosely and allow it to sit at room temperature.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the remaining ingredients into your starter. Beat until a soft dough forms and then dump out onto a 1⁄2 cup of flour on the counter. Knead just until it forms a flat ball, then flatten further patting it with the flour until it is about 6×8 inches (15×20 cm) and 1⁄3-inch (1-cm) thick. Brush off any remaining flour and cut into 8–10 triangles (and one tiny piece to test the oil).

3. Preheat oil to 350 °F (177 °C) in a heavy, wide pot on medium-low heat.

4. Test the oil heat by dropping the tiny piece of dough carefully into the oil. If it begins to bubble, you may slowly add a few pieces of dough to the pot, if not you can turn heat up to medium and wait until it bubbles. Do not overcrowd the pot.

5. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry them until the first side is golden brown and then turn with a pair of tongs. When second side is browned, carefully remove to a plate with a paper towel (to absorb excess oil) and sprinkle while hot with a little salt or cinnamon sugar, and serve.

Flanders Red Bacon Bread

A braided beer bread full of bacon and cheese. Makes four large rolls (or 12 small rolls if you choose to twist each spiral instead of braiding them in threes).

Ingredients for poolish (a lightly pre-fermented dough — make 24 hours before)
1 cup Flanders red ale
8 oz. (0.23 kg) bread flour

Ingredients for dough
1 lb. (0.45 kg) poolish
1 cup warm water (90-110 °F/32–43 °C)
1⁄2 cup olive oil blend
1 lb. 2 oz. (0.51 kg) bread flour
2 Tbsp. salt
1 packet (1⁄4 oz.) instant yeast
1 lb. (0.45 kg) thin-cut bacon
1 cup shredded parmesan (optional)

Ingredients for egg wash
1 small egg
1 Tbsp. water

Step by Step
1. Mix ingredients for poolish until no large clumps remain.

2. Cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

1. Mix all of the ingredients for the dough except the bacon in a Kitchenaid with a dough hook on low for 6 minutes.

2. Pull from machine and knead for another minute or two until dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Place in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with a towel. Set in a warm place and let rise 1 hour.

4. Divide in to 12 pieces, roll each into a long log (about the size of a piece of bacon).

5. Lay a piece of bacon across each bread “stick” and then braid three together, pinching and tucking the ends under.

6. Proof, or let rise, 1 hour or until doubled in size.

7. Using a pastry brush, mix egg and water to make egg wash, and brush on any area of exposed dough that is not covered with bacon.

8. OPTIONAL — sprinkle buns with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

9. Bake at 375 °F (190 °C) for 40–50 minutes until bread is golden brown and bacon is cooked.

Dunkel Danish

An impressive beer pastry with apple & cream cheese filling that is sure to be a hit for any gathering, served as breakfast or even dessert! This recipe works best if you can make the dough well ahead of time. Makes 12 Danishes (and extras freeze well!).

Ingredients for dough
1⁄4 cup room-temperature dunkel beer
1⁄2 cup room-temperature milk
1 egg
2 1⁄4 cups bread flour
1⁄4 oz. (7 g) instant yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

Ingredients for filling
8 oz. (227 g) soft cream cheese
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt 
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter
2 apples, diced small

Step by Step
Day 1: make dough
1. Mix beer, milk, and egg, set aside.

2. Using food processor, pulse dry ingredients together, then add butter and pulse a few more times until butter is reduced to very small shreds (smaller than the size of peas).

3. Dump in wet ingredients and pulse for a few seconds just until mixture combines to a sticky wet dough. This will appear gooey and you’ll be able to see butter dots throughout it.

4. Wrap in plastic, into a disk that is about 3⁄4-inch thick (2-cm) and then chill overnight.

1. Let dough come to room temperature.

2. Roll out into a 20-inch (50-cm) square. You may use some flour to keep it from sticking, but brush off any unnecessary flour so it doesn’t toughen your dough.

3. Fold in thirds. Roll out 3 times like this until the butter dots become thin butter blurs and dough is soft and stretchy (pictured).

4. Re-wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to rest (or your dough will be tough).

Make Filling
5. While the dough rests, make the filling by beating cream cheese with sugar, egg, and vanilla.

6. Sauté apples in butter with a pinch of salt and the cinnamon, just until apples are soft.

7. When the dough is rested, roll out into a large rectangle.

8. Place onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

9. Spread the filling on the middle third of the Danish dough and sprinkle with apples.

10. On sides of Danish dough, cut strips at an angle.

11. Fold strips over Danish, alternating sides so that it creates a braided pattern to hold filling in (pictured).

12. Brush with a little egg wash (see bacon bread recipe on page 49 for instructions) and let sit in a warm place for an hour until dough is puffy.

13. Bake 25–35 minutes at 375 °F (190 °C) until golden brown throughout.

14. Let cool completely before cutting.

Gose Breakfast Cookies

A salty, sweet, and hearty treat for those times you need breakfast on the go, this one is a perfect pocket-able brunch for heading out into the snow to enjoy winter at its fullest. Makes 12 large cookies.

Ingredients for Cookies
2 sticks butter
3⁄4 cup sugar
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
2 tsp. salt
1 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1 3⁄4 cups old fashioned rolled oats 
1⁄4 cup of Gose beer
3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts
3⁄4 cup raw sunflower seeds
3⁄4 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients for Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp.+ Gose beer
1 Tbsp. flaked sea salt* (I used a smoked Gose, so I opted to use Malden smoked sea salt, but you can use Himalayan pink sea salt, fleur de sel, or any flaked sea salt you prefer)

Step by Step
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F (177 °C).

2. Cream butter and sugars, adding vanilla and eggs one at a time until each is fully combined.

3. Sift flours, salt, and baking soda together, then mix them into the creamed butter, mixing just until smooth.

4. Mix the 1⁄4 cup of Gose with the rolled oats at least 5 minutes before mixing them into the next step.

5. Add all the seeds, nuts, fruit and oats/Gose into the original mixture until all are distributed.

6. Scoop 1⁄4 cup servings of dough and drop onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake at 350 °F (177 °C) for 18 minutes.

8. While the cookies bake, stir together powdered sugar and beer until no clumps remain (if too thin, adjust with more powdered sugar).

9. When the cookies come out of the oven, drizzle icing over them and sprinkle with sea salt.

Hazy Fig Bread

This bread is as nice fresh from the oven as it is toasted with butter the next day, and a great way to use up dried fruit. Feel free to substitute any fruit you love and might have on hand. Makes one loaf.

Ingredients For Bread Dough
4 cups high-gluten/bread flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 package instant yeast
1 cup New England IPA beer
1 cup hot water

Ingredients for Fig Filling
4 oz. (113 g) dried black mission figs
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup New England IPA beer

Step by Step
1. Start by making the dough. Pre-mix hot water and beer.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour with sugar, salt, and yeast.

3. Using a wooden spoon, mix liquid into the flour bowl until a shaggy dough forms.

4. On a lightly-floured surface, knead dough until elastic and soft (adding flour only as needed)

5. Cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.

6. Now make the fig filling. Puree the figs with sugar, salt, and vanilla in a food processor until a nice fig paste has formed, then add the beer and continue to process so that you get a nice spreadable paste.

7. When dough has doubled in size, turn it out of bowl onto a lightly-floured surface and gently press it into a rectangle 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20 cm) (try not to stretch).

8. Spread fig puree across dough completely, except for a one-inch (2.5-cm) edge farthest from you.

9. Gently roll dough closest to you in a spiral away from you, taking care to keep dough roll even in thickness.

10. When done, the edge that was free of fig puree can be pinched shut and put on the bottom.

11. Place fig roll onto a pan with parchment paper (or in a greased loaf pan if you prefer).

12. Loosely cover and let rise at least an hour until doubled in size and relaxed.

13. Preheat oven to 425 °F (218 °C) (convection is a plus if you have the option).

14. Bake 35 minutes and check it: Color should be golden brown evenly across loaf. If not, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes or so.

Espresso Stout Muffins

Fluffy coffee cake-style muffins, which pack a burst of malty vanilla stout flavor and a punch of caffeine to jumpstart the morning. We like to serve them with bacon or sausage links and fresh fruit. Makes 12 muffins.

1 stick soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cake flour
1⁄2 Tbsp. baking powder
1⁄2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. stout beer
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. instant espresso powder

Step by Step
1. Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla and then mix until smooth.

2. Sift flour and baking powder in a second bowl.

3. Mix beer and sour cream in a third bowl.

4. Mix ingredients from first three steps until smooth.

5. Spoon equally between 12 muffin tins lined with paper.

6. Mix 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. espresso powder together and then top each muffin with 1⁄2 tsp.

7. Bake at 375 °F (190 °C) for 25 minutes.

Issue: December 2019