In part one I discussed how beer can be used in the kitchen, now we take a look and some specific examples of baking with eight delicious beers: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA; Chimay White; Affligem Douppel; Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel; Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen; Innis & Gunn Original; Dennisons Weissbier; and Schneider-Weisse Aventinus.
I baked this into a plain vanilla cupcake in an attempt to let the flavors of the beer stand out alone. I was really interested to see if and how the citrus and rich hops would affect the flavor of the finished product. The cupcakes came out dense and creamy with a very light vanilla flavor. But the 60 Minute IPA did not jump out at me as I was hoping. There was a slight hoppy finish to the cupcake, but overall very little of the beers flavor was retained in the cupcake.
I also baked this into a vanilla cupcake, also trying to let the flavors of the spicy and floral Belgian Tripel come out in the cupcake. It was more impressive than the Dogfish I think; you could taste an added sweetness and a touch of light clove or yeast in the cupcake. Its texture was very airy and light, and the overall flavor was very pleasant. Still though, only a brisk amount of the beers character made it into the cupcakes.
I was very excited for the Doubbel, it is one of my favorite beers and is packed with deep flavors; certainly deeper than those of the Dogfish Head or Chimay. I stuck with the vanilla cupcakes to make sure that the comparison was even. The cupcakes came out incredibly dense, much more so than the Dogfish. This did surprise me a bit; I would have expected it to be more similar to its Belgian counterpart due to its yeast content and bottle conditioning. And beyond that I don’t really think the cupcakes were any good. There was a slight caramel taste to them, but overall they didn’t feel very nice, and they had an added bitterness to them. The Affligem is definitely not the right beer for the job.
For the Peche Mortel it was obvious that I should bake it into a chocolate cupcake. The beer is close to 10% abv and is bursting with rich chocolate and heavy espresso flavors. Beyond that, it is very creamy and smooth, so I did hope that these would turn out great. And really they did! The cupcakes were incredibly moist, fluffy, very rich in chocolate and coffee flavor, and really displayed the beers character well. It wasn’t just a chocolate cupcake, you could taste and feel the beer in it; this was so far the best combination.
From the best to the worst; it should have been obvious, but I really wanted to try the Rauchbier to see how its heavy smoky, almost sausage-like flavors would come out in baking. I know, it sounds gross already, but what’s the harm in trying? At least it would be fun! I baked it into a flavorless cupcake so that we could really gauge the beers baking abilities. And surprise, surprise – rather than tasting like a smoked sausage, the cupcakes tasted more like smoked feet! I could barely get my friends to even try a bite of them. Well, lesson learned.
The Innis & Gunn has long been one of my favorite beers and is a staple in my fridge. I cook with it all the time, I have made it into some of the most delicious barbeque sauce, and it marinades chicken and beef like nothing else! I had high hopes for the Innis, so I baked it into a caramel cupcake to mimic the rich toffee and caramel flavors in the beer. The end result was unfortunately just boring. There was really nothing to speak of in the cupcake; it was just as if I had used water rather than beer. I am still a bit perplexed by this, but the proof is in the pudding; the Innis & Gunn showed no flavor in the cupcakes, and was clearly not the right choice.
I chose the Dennisons over other wheat beers because it has a very floral, creamy, citrus and bubblegum flavor that is rightly apparent in the beer. Its spice is mellow, not over whelming, and its very well balanced with little bitter to speak of. I baked this into a vanilla citrus cupcake with grapefruit, orange and lemon zest. And wow, the results were perfect! The beer brought so much aroma and rich flavor to the cupcake. The zests in the cupcake came alive with the spicy characteristics of the beer, the bubblegum and vanilla added a great mellow sweetness, and the effervescence of the beer created a light and exciting cupcake. Game on!
With the success of the wheat beer already, I was very primed for the Aventinus, which is a Wheat Doppel Bock; a beer with significant richness and depth. It’s filled with plum, prune and dried fruit flavors, significant spice, and chocolate roast. I baked this into a pumpkin spice cupcake to try to mirror the spice and richness of the beer. It was a perfect success; the pumpkin met the fruit and spice in the beer with delicious precision, the effervescence of the beer again created a fluffy and moist cupcake which was simply perfect!
Check back tomorrow to see the final product in Part 3!