We decided to give this bread another try after so many of our readers wrote in to give their takes on Black Bread.

Are we glad we did? YES.

This new recipe is wildly easy, dense, and incredibly authentic tasting. In part, because it tastes like beer. The flavor of the beer really comes through in the finished loaf of bread, a deep, earthy bitterness that is countered by the small amount of honey.

The inside of the loaf is soft, almost crumbly, while the crust bakes hard, ideal for a bread bowl for a bit of Sister’s Stew.

Try it! Try it!

Black Beer Bread Recipe

Yes, I made this recipe up, but it is so straightforward and the ingredients so simple that I believe it could easily have been made well back into history, not to mention in the Northern reaches of Westeros. Bread making and brewing have gone hand in hand practically since they were both begun, and it’s only fitting that they should come together in this delicious bread.

Makes two loaves.

Ingredients:

  • One 12oz bottle of warm dark beer, such as stout or porter
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4-5 cups flour (we used 2 cups white flour, 2 cups rye, and 1/2 cup whole wheat) plus 1/2 cup for working.

In a small bowl, add the yeast to the beer and allow to sit for 5 minutes until foamy. To this, add the egg and honey. Combine dry ingredients, then add gradually until you have a cohesive, workable dough that isn’t too sticky. Knead about 5 minutes, then cover and let rise for at least 1 hour.

Punch down mixture, and divide in two. Shape into your desired loaf, then let rise for at least 2 hours or refrigerated overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 450F. Dust the loaf lightly with flour and slash top.

Bake for 25-30min or until the crust is nicely browned.  Let stand for at least 15 minutes.


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47 Responses to Black Bread, redux

  1. Pam says:

    Hi, was wondering how the egg and honey get incorporated to the recipe? And the kneading time, is that similar to the oat bread, which was about 8 minutes? This looks great, just hoping for a bit more detail. Thanks!!!

  2. Oh, yum. Looks like I’m going to be baking bread this weekend!

    • Made 2 loaves of this over the weakend. I have to asy, it tastes very much like a less-sweat Boston Brown Bread and went great with Beef stew. For the person who said it came out very heavy: Are you sure you let it raise enough in the first place?

      • Lissa T. says:

        I gave it at least 3 hours. I probably could have given it more, but even in that time it didn’t seem to have risen at all. I figured i probably did something wrong, chalked it up to general inexperience and called it an experiment and a lesson learned.

      • Ah. Problem explained–it didn’t raise properly. It sounds like you might have either old four (didn’t have enough gluten), had old yeast (yeast is a living organism and needs to be healthy to perform well) or the beer was too cold. (yeast also needs to be warm to grow).

    • Just tried this again using oats instead of rye flour (because I’m out of rye flour). I didn’t grind the oats; I soaked them in the beer till they were soft and mushy. I then added the yeast to the oats-and-beer mix for an additional 10 minutes. Very earthy texture and a bit lighter taste.

  3. Matt says:

    I see you’ve not subscribed to the “bread in five minutes a day” belief that kneading and punching down are unnecessary. Any thoughts on that?

    • Needs Mead says:

      I’d be curious to try! I come from a kneading/punching family, so it’s hard to break away from that. If any bread would be up for the challenge, I think it might be this one! :)

      • Lissa T says:

        I actually tried baking this bread over the weekend and, inexperienced bread maker that i am, i was decidedly negligent in my kneading and punching; couldn’t have been more than a minute of kneading, with maybe… two punches ;)
        The bread came out EXTREMELY dense (each loaf is pretty heavy, and they’re not huge loaves) but surprisingly soft inside, slice-able and tasty. i ate a slice with some pepperoni… awesome.
        It’s just… very, VERY dense.

        • Needs Mead says:

          We’ve actually got a half of one of our similarly weighty loaves sitting out on the counter for a science project of sorts. It’s been there for nearly a month at this point, and I’m fascinated that it hasn’t seemed to grow any mold yet. Truly, a winning, durable, hearty bread for The Wall, or Sisterton. :)

    • I know this is an extremely reply but there is an art to the no- and low-knead breads. The way they tend to work is that it’s a more liquidy style bread dough with a longer resting and raising time. In doing so, you get a dough that effectively develops the gluten as it rests and it forms entirely as you manipulate it into shape. It’ll still never really be as tall of a loaf as one made through kneading.

  4. Katie says:

    My friend and I made this today. The bread was absolutely delicious! Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. We are total novices at this, so we were a little unsure at first whether to dissolve the yeast in water first or in the warm beer. (Like I said, total novices. :p) We did use the water. We also used 2 1/2 cups wheat flour, because rye was unavailable. We served this up with some butter and honey. Couldn’t have been better! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Danielle says:

    Made this on Sunday night! I’m mad at myself that I didn’t take a picture. This was the first bread I’ve ever attempted and it came out great! Thank you so much for creating and maintaining this site!

  6. Matt says:

    Made this last night pre-Thanksgiving. I was quite sure I screwed it up royally. Proofing didn’t seem to go well, so I left it sit out at room temp all night. Plus the dough was way too sticky when I first started working it. I resolved to having some screwed up bread. However, after baking it this morning I proved to myself once again that people have baking bread for thousands of years without all the fancy what-nots and high paid chefs telling you how difficult it is-the bread turned out great. A great crust, and a nice soft interior. Very delicious. Thanks for the recipe, ladies!

  7. Megalomaniac says:

    I made this the other night, but I ended up using more rye flour to compensate for not having whole wheat flower, and I used my homemade English Breakfast Stout (which had about 1.5lbs of grain steeped in it prior to the boil), the bread was more of a tan “Faded Dark Earth” colour despite the stout’s blackness, and very dense but very good. I was worried that my homemade beer still has plenty of active yeast in it that it would make the bread over rise like that episode of “I Love Lucy”.

  8. I’ve tried to make this twice and have yet to bake my dough. The first time I used Dragon’s Milk (a oak barrel aged ale from New Holland Brewery in Holland, MI) and the other time a milk stout from a craft brewery in Pennsylvania (forgot the name). The first time I poured the beer in first and then added the yeast to the beer (by pouring it over, letting it sit for a minute, then stirring the yeast in) and I didn’t get anything approaching foamy. The second time I placed the yeast in the bowl and then poured the beer in and the mixture foamed to fill up 3/4 of the bowl instantly.

    Both cases I used the ratio of flour mix you have listed (using bread flour as the white flour).

    In both of the cases I mentioned, the dough didn’t seem to rise at all. It was just a heavy lump of dough. I’m wondering what I may have done wrong in either case. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Also, when you call for warm beer, do you mean just warm (i.e. room temp) or warm and flat?

    • How fresh is the flour you are using? What kind of yeast are you using and how fresh is it? (i.e. bread yeast, fast rising yeast, left-over from Christmas last year, ect.) Also, where are you putting the dough to rise? Are you covering it? If so, with what? (towel, wax paper, oil, flour, ect)

      The beer can beer room temp. No need to let it go flat. Aslo, “till foamy” can be interpreted as “till disolved.” If the beer is foamy when you pour it in the bowl, the foam will actually go down. The dough needs to be warm to the touch but not hot for the yeast to be able to work. The dough is very moist, so I usually flour it then loosly drape a tea towel over it and let it stand in a dark, draft-free counter in the kitchen. And fresh is best with flour and yeast both.

      • In no particular order:

        I bought the yeast, rye flour, and whole wheat flour fresh (bread flour was on hand and less than 4 months old), as well as the yeast.

        The yeast is just the pre-measured packets at the amount listed in the recipe. It’s a dry active yeast from the local grocery store.

        As for putting the dough to rise, i leave it in the bowl i mixed it in and covered with a clean dish towel, putting in a shady corner of the kitchen.

        I’m going to give this another whirl tomorrow and see what happens.

      • Try using your oven as a proofing box. Turn your oven on to “warm” for about 5 minutes then shut it off. Place a bowl of boiling water on the bottom rack and the covered dough on the top rack. This should help the dough rise. Also, make sure you are kneading the dough well. Whole grain breads need to be kneaded more than conventional bread to help develop gluten. Gluten has a bad rep because some people are sensitive to it, but it is the stretchy bit that allows the bread to hold the gasses produced by the yeast, aka “rising.” This dough is wet enough that you don’t need to beat the heck out of it, but if you are having trouble getting it to rise, a little more kneading might help.

  9. elShoggotho says:

    I prefer sourdough, but that’s a matter of personal taste. Just make a dough out of two pounds of rye flour, a pint of water, and a tea spoon of salt. Cover and let sit for a few days, until a characteristic scent fills the room. That’s the natural yeast feasting on the rye. Put a quarter aside (to freeze for next time), form two loaves out of the rest, cut the surface crosswise. Preheat the oven to full heat, put the bread in on a low tray, let it bake for at least 30 minutes, better 45. After ten minutes, turn the heat down to 390°.

  10. heather says:

    Wow, this bread is sooo good. Made some beef barley stew and decided half way through that store bought bread was not going to cut it so decided to try this bread out as I had most ingredients except the beer. So I went out and found a dark chocolate stout from a local brewery only offered during the holidays. I also didn’t have regular honey, only espresso infused. Seriously some of the best bread ever…there were these little hints of chocolate in the bread and it came out this gorgeous dark color that I thought was burning at first but must have been from the beer, super crusty outside and ohh so soft on the inside. Your recipe is awesome and so is this site.
    Cheers from Canada :)

  11. Eyeska says:

    I’ve baked this one once so far to great effect, and decided to make a BIG loaf (ie: not splitting it out) and it’s in the oven right now.

    I have two questions, though:

    1. Would you mind posting pics the next time you make this? I am curious about my results vs. yours (ie: mine does NOT rise in the oven a whole lot, and while the first time it came out it was gorgeous and crazy dense and totally delicious, my slashes in the top both times have stayed pretty much where I left them). Plus, you know, your pics are awesome. :D
    2. The egg – is this something that could be omitted in favour of more liquid? I’m somewhat new to bread baking, but in other areas I find that a single egg is quite replaceable, and I have some vegans/folks allergic to egg in my life.

  12. Emmeri says:

    I’ve made this recipe twice and it’s turned out great both times. I only did two things differently: a) I made rolls instead of breadloafs and baked them for about 10-12 minuts b) I put oil over the dough during the first rise. They rolls were excellent!

    If people are having a problem with the proofing step make sure the beer is slightly warm. It shouldn’t be hot but I just warm it up slightly on the stove. It poofs up within 5 minutes.

  13. Joe says:

    I made two loaves of this today but made one small tweak, I added 3 tbs. of unsweetened dark cocoa. It turned out heavy, which to me is perfect for this type of bread. I loved this so much, it will be come a regular for our household =)

    Thanks for all the great work here, I will be purchasing the book come May!

  14. davos says:

    If I choose to let it rise for the recommended 2 hours do I keep it in the fridge during this time

    • Needs Mead says:

      Nope, you can just keep it under a damp dish towel on the counter or in a greased bowl. The fridge is an option for overnight rising

  15. davos says:

    What does it mean to punch down mixture

    • Needs Mead says:

      When the dough has risen, and is puffed up, you “punch it down”, which basically means deflating it. Depending on the mix of flours used in this recipe, it might not puff up too much, which is OK. Just follow the rest of the directions, and you should be fine. :)

  16. Betsy Vane says:

    Hi there – wondering if anyone’s tried baking this specifically for trenchers for the Sister’s Stew? I know you can just make smaller loaves and hollow them out, but I’ve seen recipes that are specifically for trenchers, and was thinking about adapting this in that way. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for these fantastic recipes – I am planning a Feast of Ice and Fire for my family the day before Christmas, and will be making several recipes from your cookbook and then giving the book as presents to everyone!

  17. ravendance says:

    I just made this today and divided it into four trenchers to fill with my lazy version of SIster’s Stew (which is just chunky potato soup with various seafood added and seasoned with Old bay). Oh my…it was wonderful! I used Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat ale and incorporated oats like Rebecca Murray, and the bread ended up a perfect density with a touch of sweetness. The only issue I had was that the recipe doesn’t mention what sort of pan to use or if it needs to be prepped in some way, so I used the same method as for the Crusty Bread and baked them on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, and they ended up sticking pretty badly when I went to take them off. Any suggestions?

  18. Kyle says:

    Not to sound lazy, but how does this fair in a bread machine?

  19. Kari says:

    Made this bread today. Took half the dough and turned them into faux doormice.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v45/Yuuri/Game%20of%20Thrones%20food/DSCN0052.jpg

  20. I’m intrigued by this one – but I reckon I might try and re-create it in a more authentic way using a natural bread leaven and beer barm, how it would have been done in the Middle Ages (and in Westeros) when bakeries and breweries were found side-by-side. We didn’t really get commercial yeast until after Louis Pasteur in the late 19thC.

  21. asparagussy says:

    Love this recipe! Mainly because it is delicious and I am not a bread maker, but it came out so well my first time around (raves at brunch!). In total I’ve made it 3 times with one failure – the second time – which I am pretty sure was due to the high alcohol content in the beer I chose (about 10%). Yeast die when the alcohol content is too high, so I’m guessing I killed the little buggers rather than “proofing” them. I’ve noticed several other people have had trouble and I wonder if that isn’t the problem for them, too? Aaron Jozwiak mentioned one beer he tried with poor results, Dragons Milk by New Holland Brewery. It is 10%ABV, so that would be a possibility.

  22. Kelly says:

    I can’t wait to make this! Probably a dumb question, but I’m more of a cupcake baker :) When you bake the bread in the oven, do you put it on a cookie sheet? Or just stick it in there on the rack? And how do you know if you need to use 4 or 5 cups of flour? Thanks :)

  23. Elaina says:

    I don’t know what I did wrong but I added like 8 cups of flour and its still not forming a “cohesive mass” :( I double checked and i definitely used 12 fluid ounces of beer but for some reason it was way too much liquid! What did I do wrong?

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