Irish Ale Bread with Caraway & Herbs

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Other than wearing green, we typically celebrate the holiday by having a festive meal. 🙂

This year, instead of making a new soda bread, I made this Irish version of beer bread. I loved the caraway seeds (which I also love in soda bread) and the flecks of green from the fresh herbs in the dough.

We ate it for dinner with shepherd’s chicken pot pie, roasted asparagus, and green salad. It would also be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional celebratory corned beef and cabbage meal.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the baking time to bake the loaf in a pullman loaf pan in a convection oven. The bread was delicious with and without salted butter.

Yield: one Pullman loaf or one 9-inch loaf

  • 260 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 T honey
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 12 ounce bottle or can Irish lager, such as Harp
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Mist a Pullman loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, caraway, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the dill and chives, then toss well.
  5. Drizzle in the honey and 4 tablespoons of melted butter, then add the beer and whisk gently just until evenly moistened; do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 25 minutes in a Pullman pan on convection, or up to 40 to 45 minutes in a 9-inch pan in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: Don’t slice the bread while it’s warm. Like all quick breads, this loaf slices more easily and cleanly at room temperature. Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

Pulled Chicken Barbecue on Beer Bread with Quick Dill Pickles

This is a great summer meal. We have already tried a couple versions!

The first time I served this meal, I shredded grilled chicken thighs and dressed them with Trader Joe’s mustard barbecue sauce. We topped them with the quick dill pickles (below) and ate them as classic sandwiches.

The second time, I served the sandwiches in an open face fashion and we ate them with a knife and fork. I shredded a rotisserie chicken and dressed the meat with the tomato-based barbecue sauce (below) and topped them with my favorite Easy Fridge Dill Pickles.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used various barbecue sauces and pickles. I also served the sandwiches on slices of a Honey Beer Bread loaf. We ate the sandwiches with potato chips on one occasion and with homemade Curly Fries on the second occasion. Corn on the cob would also be great. The original recipe suggests serving them with cole slaw- next time!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • Honey Beer Bread or large potato rolls or hamburger buns
  • Basic Barbecue Sauce (recipe below) or 2 cups store-bought sauce (such as Trader Joe’s Mustard Barbecue Sauce)
  • Quick Dill Pickles (recipe below) or Easy Fridge Dill Pickles
  • shredded skinless cooked chicken from a large store-bought rotisserie chicken (4 cups packed, or more, to taste) or boneless skinless chicken thighs, grilled and shredded
  1. Prepare the Beer Bread, Basic Barbeque Sauce and Dill Pickle Cucumber Slices. (Alternatively, bring the prepared barbecue sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan and warm the store-bought buns.)
  2. Add the shredded chicken meat to the sauce and heat until hot. (When using the Basic Barbecue Sauce, I incorporated the shredded meat from an entire rotisserie chicken. We had leftovers.)
  3. Cut the Beer Bread, if using, one or two slices per serving, as desired.
  4. Place pieces of bread on individual plates and top each with the chicken mixture.
  5. Top the chicken with pickle slices and another piece of bread, if desired.

For the Basic Barbecue Sauce:

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves (I used 2 CSA little neck garlic cloves)
  • 2 cups ketchup (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 T cider vinegar
  • 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 T Creole seasoning (recipe below) or store-bought (I used Slap Ya Mama)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot; reduce the heat to low and press the garlic into the oil. Sauté for about 1 minute or until it just begins to turn golden.
  2. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Creole seasoning, and mustard.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, partially covered to reduce spattering, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use as directed in a recipe or transfer to a nonreactive jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

For the Quick Dill Pickles:

Yield: 1 1/3 cups

  • one 5 to 6-inch piece of seedless (English) cucumber
  • 2 T fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Thinly slice enough of the cucumber to make 1 1/3 cups. (I cut them 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.)
  2. Combine the cucumber with the vinegar, dill, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small non-reactive bowl.
  3. Set it aside at room temperature and use within and hour, or cover and refrigerate for later use.

For the Creole Seasoning:

Yield: about 1/2 cup

  • 1 T plus 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 T Kosher salt
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  1. Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme in a small bowl.
  2.  Transfer to a tight jar and use as directed in a recipe.

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