Honey beer bread muffins

By | February 14, 2013

honey beer bread muffins 1

This recipe and story first appeared in the Nov. 5, 2012 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my biweekly cooking column in Binah magazine.

Honey beer bread is a quick, flavorful, no-yeast bread that would make an awesome addition to your Purim seuda. I’ll be bringing a big batch to our seuda hosts, along with these insanely cool Girl Scout Samoa hamentaschen and a ton of chocolate-dipped pretzels.

Although I dabbled in cooking as a teen, I only started it in earnest at the age of 24 and one month — which is how old I was when I got married. There’s nothing like the presence of a new husband to inspire culinary adventures, and like any kallah, I was eager to fill our home with only the most delicious meals and snacks. Everything that could be made from scratch was done that way with a relish: bread, granola bars, crackers, tomato sauce, ketchup, even Oreo cookies.

I took particular pride in cooking new dishes as often as possible. I remember telling one of my sisters-in-law that it was our 63rd day of marriage – and so far, I had cooked 63 different dishes! Of course, that level of variety is hard to maintain, and I eventually developed a recipe rotation that consisted of the dishes that were most practical, economical, and always turned out well. That’s not to say that I stopped experimenting, just that I did less of it than in those early months.

But you know how it goes.

The months passed, and I slipped into a culinary comfort zone. My grocery lists always included the same 20 or so products, and we found ourselves buying the same brands over and over again. There’s one brand of pasta that always has the steepest sales, so we buy it in every shape. The only canned foods we buy are tuna, chickpeas, and white beans. And our produce selections usually come from the same 10 or so items (though you wouldn’t believe how many different ways there are to prepare an eggplant).

honey beer bread muffins 3

The familiarity also works well for my husband, the prime grocery shopper since we moved to our yishuv. The closest full-size grocery store is located 20-something minutes down the highway, and we rely on tremps (hitchhikes) to get there. This means that we can only bring home what we can carry – which, in my husband’s case, is quite a lot. (The other week, he brought home 82 pounds of food on his back.)

Each time I ask him to do the shopping, I write up a grocery list in my best handwriting, making careful notes about quantities and prices at which I’d want to stock up.

We go through the list together before he heads out to the store, a step that cuts the mid-shopping phone calls by about 50 percent. (How many times have you seen some poor guy deliberating between long-grain Persian rice and short-grain Persian rice?)

I always feel a bit bad adding something new to the list, or even something that just hasn’t been on the lists for awhile. Take this phone exchange from the recent day I needed potato starch for my Shabbos kugel:

Husband (already at the store): How do you say “potato starch” in Hebrew?
Me: I’m pretty sure the package has the words “potato starch” in English.
Husband: I don’t think so…
Me: Okay, I’ll look it up. [pause] It says “amilan,” but that sounds weird to me. I think it might be “kemach tapuchei adama.”
Husband: No, I think it’s “amilan.” Thanks.

Later that night, he arrives home with the groceries. I glance at the bag of potato starch as I put it in the freezer.

The English lettering stares back at me: “potato starch.”

honey beer bread muffins 2

So yes, we were both comfortable in our comfort zone. That has its advantages, but it also meant that there were way too many foods that we just weren’t buying.

I realized, for example, that I had been living in Israel for two years without ever purchasing a block of feta cheese. The dairy aisles here can be confusing, and once I’d figured out where the cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, and shredded pizza cheese were, I called it a day. A two-year-long day, I guess.

We decided to do something about it. No longer would we glide by the shelves, blissfully ignoring everything but the regulars. Now, we’d deliberately seek out the ingredients that we had never before used in cooking. I couldn’t wait to research the different uses of obscure (and not-so-obscure-after-all) products. We called it the Random Mystery Item (RMI) project, and we thought it pretty smart.

My husband’s first choice was a can of artichoke bottoms, which delighted me because not only had I never tasted an artichoke bottom, I had also never heard of an artichoke bottom. Artichoke hearts? Yes. Artichoke bottoms? No. They don’t look too appealing straight from the can, but by the time I was done with them, we had a delicious appetizer good enough for inclusion in my cookbook. Nothing like an RMI to inject some newness into your routine menu plan.

honey beer bread muffins 4

This honey beer bread is the result of an RMI that we found in our own fridge: a can of beer received five months earlier in mishloach manot. We sold it with our chametz, bought it back with our chametz, and still never opened it because we just didn’t know what to do with it. (Obviously, we aren’t big drinkers.)

Even if, like me, you think beer smells terrible, you’ll have a hard time resisting the gentle sweetness and malty flavor of these light, moist bread muffins. They break apart into chunks without leaving a pile of crumbs behind – which is quite useful, considering that you’ll be rushing to tear these open and fill their centers with a smear of butter and a drizzle of honey. Beer bread muffins would also be delicious with cream cheese, any fruity jam, or even sliced cheese and vegetables.

It isn’t hard to find ways to eat these. What’s hard is understanding what took me so long to use up that beer.

One year ago: Zero-patience peanut butter brownies


18 Comments

Melinda (Kitchen Tested) on February 14, 2013 at 5:31 am.

I love the addition of honey to this beer bread. Thanks for the shout out! Let me know what everyone thinks of the Samoa Hamantaschen. I’ll be making them as well :)

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Prag on February 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm.

Although I have visited this site in the past, I just now realise you are the one form Binah.

I must say the lasagne soup featured recently was such a crazy idea (to me), I had never heard or tasted anything like that.It was a wonderful recipe.

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Tali Simon on February 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm.

Glad to hear you liked that one. It’s probably one of my most-used recipes out of everything I’ve developed for the Binah column. Just made a pot this week!

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Yael B on February 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm.

I made these today for dinner. They were a unanimous hit! Thanks!
Those Samoa hamentashen look amazing, is it possible for them to be made parve or is there no chance because of the caramel?

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Tali Simon on February 14, 2013 at 11:39 pm.

I’m planning to use the caramel recipe from my bonbon post (http://morequicheplease.com/2012/07/ice-cream-caramel-bonbons-kosher-connection-linkup/), probably doubling or tripling it and subbing out the butter for margarine. We’ll see what happens.

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Hindy on February 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm.

I made beer bread once and it was a huge hit. I love the addition of honey and the idea of turning it in to muffins. Very good!

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jessica (the kosher foodies) on February 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm.

these look great. i love new muffin ideas

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leah on February 19, 2013 at 2:27 am.

tali, this is random but i want to tell you that i just read your post about your first wedding anniversary and it was insanely inspiring! you are such a special awesome person! your husband is a really lucky man! always brimming with optimism and so spiritual and focused on the important things in life! not to mention your amazing food! im a big fan

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Tali Simon on February 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm.

Whew, what a comment! Appreciate all of it. :)

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Devorah on April 10, 2013 at 11:32 pm.

Tali, these bread muffins look delicious! what bracha do you make on them- hamotzie or mezonot?

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Tali Simon on April 12, 2013 at 10:26 am.

They fall under the category of pas haba b’kisnin — bread-ish foods that have a significant amount of atypical ingredients mixed into the dough. The question then becomes: Is the food more like a cake, or more like a bread? I would say they’re more cake-like and that the bracha would therefore be mezonot (unless you’re making a meal out of them, in which case it would be hamotzei). Of course, feel free to confirm this with your local rav.

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Devorah on April 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm.

Thank you! Can’t wait to make them!

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Yiska Ben Avraham on April 29, 2014 at 11:04 pm.

If you are microwaveless, is it safe to heat/melt the honey on the stove or is it like brown butter? :)

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Tali Simon on April 30, 2014 at 11:04 am.

Totally fine to do it on the stove. I added that to the directions, thanks for asking!

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Yiska Ben Avraham on May 4, 2014 at 11:36 pm.

OK, another question. Any reason you said to line the muffin tins rather than using paper liners? (I would just do whatever, but if I can ask the expert, why not?)

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Tali Simon on May 5, 2014 at 11:00 am.

(Assuming you meant to write “grease the muffin tins” instead of “line”:) Good question. You’ll get a nicer crust/color around the outside of the muffins, but I’m sure that using paper liners would be fine. Let me know if you try that!

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Yiska Ben Avraham on May 8, 2014 at 9:44 pm.

K, so we made them! (See who “we” is below.) They’re really good – you can taste how the individual ingredients come together very well!

We used liners and they came out fine, but they just had a case of Muffin Sticking to the Liner. Nothing more than I’ve seen with other muffins and not a big deal, though we did not achieve 100% edible muffin volume :)

The upside of putting liners in rather than greasing the cups: 1) another step for Miss Two Year Old to do to help Mama 2) a greased muffin pan is just begging for toddler hands to poke fingers in it. :)

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Tali Simon on May 9, 2014 at 7:59 am.

Love that your toddler helped you with a beer recipe! Thanks for reporting back.

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