It doesn't get much better than beer bread: mix, bake, slather with butter, smile. Repeat last two steps until satisfied. What's better, all the dry ingredients can be mixed together ahead of time and the only required liquid comes in its own self-contained bottle - this makes beer bread mixes one of our standby gifts for foodies, beer-lovers, and just about everyone else!
Aside from being a snap to make, we also love that beer bread is endlessly versatile. To a basic recipe, we can add freshly grated cheese, herbs, dried fruit, or even bits of hard sausage. We also like to play around with the kind of beer we use (or include with the mix). There are a lot of great holiday beers in stores right now and these tend to have lots of warming, aromatic spices that translate really well into baked form!
One of our favorite recipes comes from Susan over at A Year in Bread. She also has some great suggestions for variations:
• Susan's Beyond Easy Beer Bread from A Year in Bread
When it comes to gift-giving, we like to put the dry mix in a canning jar and then use a nice ribbon to tie it to the bottle of beer. If you're feeling extra fancy, you can add the dry ingredients to the jar one at a time for a layered look. We've also definitely poured the dry mix in a zip-lock bag and thrown everything into a handy holiday gift bag when we're in a pinch!
Another idea is to include a loaf pan with the bread mix and package everything right inside the pan. This is an especially good idea if you're unsure whether your gift recipient actually owns a bread pan!
Don't forget to write out the instructions for making the beer bread on a pretty recipe card and tuck that into the package. In case you missed it, those instructions were "Mix, bake, slather with butter, smile. Repeat last two steps until satisfied."
Related: Good Recipe for a Crowd: Beer Braised Short Ribs
(Image: Flickr member Kitchen Wench licensed under Creative Commons)