Beer bread is an endlessly adaptable quick bread that you can flavor with whatever strikes your fancy, or whatever you have on hand. It’s simple to make and takes very few ingredients. In fact, you don’t even need beer—club soda or seltzer supplies the necessary carbon dioxide just as well. But beer’s malty and yeasty flavors add dimension to the finished bread, and interesting beers impart their distinctive characters to each loaf.

To the basic recipe, hounds add for flavoring: chopped fresh basil or dill, Italian seasoning, mustard seed, dill seed, chopped or dried onion, and grated cheeses of all kinds. Some like to dot the top with butter; others mix melted butter into the batter. You can make a sweet version by increasing the sugar and including warm spices, nuts, or dried fruits; try using a spiced or fruit-flavored beer or a lambic here to complement the sweeter flavors.

Basic Beer Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 ounces beer

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and turn into a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester inserted comes out clean.

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