Beer can be a baker’s secret weapon. It adds complex depth to sweets and amplifies the toasty flavor of savory breads and crackers. Its natural leavening abilities give extra lift to quick breads and layer cakes. It adds moisture and can cut down on proof time in yeast breads. And because the alcohol inhibits gluten formation, baking with beer results in a tender, delicate crumb. Luckily, today’s obsession with craft beer is a boon for bakers, as you’ll find an impressive range of options available at nearly every grocery store and corner market across the country. The following recipes focus on five major styles of beer—IPA, Stout, Saison, Kölsch, and Oktoberfest—but don’t be afraid to experiment with a bottle of your go-to brew.
STOUT: Rich and dark with soft carbonation, stouts can range from sweet to dry with big roasty-toasty notes. Expect notes of chocolate, sweet caramel, or bitter coffee—all of which work beautifully with the cocoa powder and malted milk in our layer cake.
We like: Guinness Draught, The Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery Milk Stout, Modern Times Black House Stout
What to make: Chocolate, stout, and malt are a stellar match made in heaven in this strikingly tall 2-layer Cocoa-Stout Cake with Malted Buttercream. If needed, you can use 9-inch pans—just trim a few minutes from the bake time.