Beer and cheese bread for lazy bakers


Bread.  The final frontier.  These are the voyages of the Breadship Cooksister.  Her mission:  to explore new loaves. To seek out new yeasts and new starters.  To boldly bake where no dough has gone before…

[wakes up from dream]

Who am I kidding?? Check out the recipe index on my site and tell me how many bread recipes you see.  I’ll tell you – a big fat zero!  I bake endless muffins.  I make a cracking quiche.  My cookies are much sought-after.  But somehow the bread thing passed me by.  Yes folks, I feel no need to knead.  In fact the only time I have ever handled live yeast and kneaded a loaf was under close supervision at the wonderful Cucina Caldesi Italian baking class (I must say that it was surprisingly unthreatening – but once I got home the urge to  bake mysteriously went away).

I blame my mother.  She was an enthusiastic cook all her life and pretty adventurous in the years that she was a stay-at-home mome, but she was also a Professor of Radiography and very active in her profession from about the time my brother and went to school.  When faced with the competing pressures of her profession, a husband, a large house and two young kids, she became an ardent fan of the “life’s too short to stuff a mushroom” school of cooking.  I can safely say that I never saw my mom kneading bread and I was not aware that such a thing as live yeast existed until well into my twenties!  But she was a fan of quick and easy bread recipes and I do remember one particular recipe that she would always make with homemade soup on a Sunday night.  I never knew the provenance of this recipe though.  And because her mom (my grandmother) died when Mamma was only seven years old, I presumed it wasn’t an heirloom recipe.

When I was last home over Christmas, one of the things I decided to bring back with me was my mom’s index book of recipes.  Some are handwritten (some even in my own hand!), some are photocopied, some are torn from magazines – many aren’t even stuck in, merely tucked.  And at the back of the book I found a document that didn’t seem to belong in the book at all – the minutes of a committee meeting of the Natal Branch of the South African Society of Radiographers, dated 1977.  I was about to throw it out when item four caught my eye.  The heading was “Matters arising from correspondence” and the item 4.2 read as follows:  “In reply to Memo 46, the Committee offers the following” – followed by the recipe for the yeastless, no-knead wholewheat loaf that I knew so well from many a Sunday night soup evening.  It reminded me so much of the way my mom and many of her colleagues cheerfully juggled family life with professional life and it made me smile because I see so much of that in me. Can’t fight the genes.

However, the recipe I offer you today is not that recipe – we’ll leave that for another time. Bierbroodjiedetail  Seeing as braai season  has been in full swing at Chez Cooksister, what with the lovely weather we’ve unexpectedly been having, I thought I’d post something that goes well with a braai.  Those of you who remember my post on the great South African tradition of The Braai will recall that most of the cooking is done by the menfolk. This has traditionally meant that many of the side dishes are also reduced to their manly basics.  The beer bread recipe below was given to me by an ex colleague when I was still happily ensconced in academia – a red-blooded South African male if ever you saw one.  This bread was his showpiece at our annual staff braai and it is a keeper.  Preparation time is, oooh, 5 minutes and then you just plonk it in the oven and wait.  Could it be easier?

I modified the recipe slightly by adding the fresh thyme and next time I’ll sprinkle Maldon flakes on top. Oh, and I though I still had sesame seeds but then discovered I’d used them all up to make Bron’s chocolate oat and sesame cookies and I had to substitute sunflower seeds.  But otherwise it’s unchanged.  It makes a small loaf with a delicious chewy golden crust and a dense, cakey crumb.  The yeasty beer flavour (I used Budweiser) really comes through in the end product and the cheese adds a wonderful richness.  I was munching away on it over the weekend thinking ummm, this reminds me of something.  And then it struck me:  a cheese fondue!!  Bread.  Cheese. Beer.  It all makes sense now.

It’s bread, Jim, but not as we know it.

For other bread and bread roll recipes from food blogs, check out:




Bierbroodjie2BEER AND CHEESE BREAD (BIER- EN KAASBROODJIE) makes one medium loaf


500g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
125g cheddar, cut into small cubes
340ml beer (a can in South Africa, slightly less than a full can here in the UK)
50ml water
1Tbsp fresh thyme
50ml sesame or sunflower seeds
Maldon salt to sprinkle on top


Pre-heat the oven to 180C  Grease a small loaf tin.

Sift flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.  Stir in the beer, cheese, water and thyme.  You can add a little water if the dough is too dry.  Mix until all the flour has been moistened and the dough forms a cohesive mass.

Transfer the dough to the loaf tin, sprinkle with seeds and Maldon salt and place in the pre-heated oven.

Test with a skewer after about one hour when the top is golden brown – if the skewer comes out clean, remove from oven. Serve with plenty of butter.

NB – leave to cool for 10 minutes or so before you slice!!  I was in too much of a hurry to get at that glorious-smelling loaf and ended up shredding one end in my haste 😉

This post was submitted as my entry to this month’s edition of Waiter, there’s something in my…  – the monthly themed cooking event hosted in rotation by me, Johanna and Andrew.  Check out Andrew’s blog for the roundup – and look out for my annoucement as your host next month!

And have a look at my bread made by Sam, another blogging South African in Australia.  She also makes a fab-sounding version using stout instead of lager, and that most top-secret of South African ingredients, brown onion soup/gravy 😉

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  1. says

    I think I come from your mother’s school of cooking, which is why I have never made bread. But it was one of my goals to do so this year, and I think this may be the recipe that kicks it off! Please also post that wholewheat bread recipe.

  2. says

    Gorgeous! My mom made one quite similar :) I might be embarking shortly on the ‘life’s too short to stuff a mushroom’ phase of my life – going back to work!

  3. says

    mmhh, mmmhhh, double-mmmmhhhh! cheese fondue soaked up into a bread loaf? got to try that! five minutes is just what i can manage in between one kid falling asleep and the other waking up… just need to remember to keep that beer safe – then again, they might sleep much better if i didn’t 😉

  4. says

    That beer bread looks delicious, Jeanne. I bet it would be good made with yeast and flour instead of self-raising flour too. 😉 (Actually I know it’s a good combination – I’ve made a somewhat similar yeast bread with hard apple cider and cheddar cheese)
    Good idea to put sunflower seeds on top!
    P.S. I’d like to file a grievance: how is it that you managed to post this on time?! I was counting on you to be late so I could use you as an example if I tried to wheedle with Andrew to add my tardy post to the roundup. But as it is, I don’t have a leg to stand on. (oooh too bad this isn’t EoMEoTE!! I could have said I “l’egg to stand on”!)

  5. says

    oooh, yum! now, the big question: anyone tried bread on the barbie/braai?
    Im thinking naan type flat bread will be easy, or a damper-y thing (more scone-y), but this recipe might be worth a go. anyone else game?

  6. says

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe, Jeanne. I made it yesterday – my first attempt at bread ever – and it was a raging success with our braai. I used Emmenthaler and rosemary because Cheddar is hard to find in Deutschland, but I imagine the sharp bite of Cheddar must be delicious. This is a winner. The only problem is I can’t make it too often because it is very, very moreish.

  7. says

    Yes, Zoe, both naan and pita work wonderfully baked in the barbecue. So do pizza and focaccia.
    Preheat the barbecue and then just lay the shaped bread directly on the grill. Close the lid for a couple of minutes. If you’re making naan or pita, in no time, they will start to bubble. Turn them (use tongs), close the lid again and in a few minutes, they’ll be done.
    It’s a great way to have bread in the summer-time.
    P.S. In case you’re interested, here are photos of focaccia dough made into buns for hamburgers and baked on the barbecue:

  8. says

    Love your intro, and the bread looks fantastic as well. I find bread baking immensely satisfying, and am going to try this out the first chance I get!

  9. John von Bonde says

    Hi J

    I googled “beer bread south Africa” and Cooksister came up first! Both my mother and I are somewhat gluten intolerant and I baked a beer loaf using gluten free flour (bought at Dischem on Andrea’s recommendation). It turned out somewhat heavy, but not inedible. Do you have any advice for baking a gluten free loaf (without yeast because I’m too impatient!)?

    Thanks and keep up the good work!



    • Jeanne says

      John! How lovely to find one off my “real world” friends actually reads my blog 😉 Have mailed you some suggestions – do let me know how they turn out!