Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout Coffeecake and Noël Bread

Cooking with Beer by | Dec 2011 | Issue #59

Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

Whatever your holiday traditions are, the smell of bread baking in the oven early in the morning as your family wakes up helps to create a festive, warm and inviting atmosphere. These easy-to-bake breakfast treats will delight one and all, maybe even becoming one of your family traditions. I hope everyone has a great holiday season.

Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout Coffeecake with Toasted Oatmeal Streusel
I love gingerbread. Using an Oatmeal Stout instead of water adds an extra dimension to this moist coffeecake, highlighting the complexity of the spices and the roasty notes of the beer. The streusel topping can be omitted to create a great dessert cake instead.

Serves: 6–8 guests

Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout Coffeecake Ingredients:
12 oz Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin, or another Oatmeal Stout
1 cup molasses, not blackstrap
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup turbinado or light brown sugar, packed firmly
1 tsp ginger, fresh, peeled and grated fine
3 each eggs, large, preferably farm fresh
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp ginger, ground
2 tsp cinnamon, Ceylon variety
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cloves, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground

Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout Coffeecake Directions:
Pour the Stout into a medium-size pot over high heat and bring to just short of a boil. Add the molasses and whisk to combine, then add the baking soda. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Next, coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick spray, or butter and flour a Bundt pan.

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream it on medium speed until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and ginger, and beat for 2–3 minutes on high speed. Add one egg at a time, until combined. Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl and paddle.

In a sifter or fine colander, add the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, clove and nutmeg, and sift into the mixing bowl. Pour the cooled Stout molasses mixture over the top of the flour and fold with a spatula until combined, making sure there are no flour spots and the batter is mixed evenly (but don’t over-mix).

Toasted Oatmeal Streusel Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, old-fashioned flaked
1 cup sugar, light brown or golden, packed firmly
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp candied lemon peel, minced
1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces (1 1/2 sticks)

Toasted Oatmeal Streusel Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oatmeal evenly onto a sheet tray and into the hot oven. Toast the oatmeal for 8–10 minutes, stirring once or twice, to brown evenly. Remove from the oven and pour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, flour, lemon peel, cardamom and salt, and mix well. Once the oats have cooled, add the butter and toss/stir until pea-shaped balls of streusel form.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Distribute half of the streusel over the top of the gingerbread batter. Pour the remaining batter over the top of the streusel, spreading with a spatula to achieve an even thickness. Arrange the remaining streusel over the cake, place into the center of the oven and bake for 40–45 minutes, or until a thin knife removed from the center comes out clean. Let the coffeecake cool, then cut and serve.

*Dark Candi makes two soft sugars, Blonde and Dark. Both can be found online or in homebrew stores.

Noël Bread Topped with a Rochefort Drizzle
This breakfast treat is prepared the night before, making it easy to just place into the oven and bake while coffee is brewing and bacon is sizzling in the pan. Noël Bread is similar to a monkey bread or pull-apart bread, but it borrows a unique Belgian pearl sugar, often found in Liège waffles.

Serves: 8–10 people

Dried Fruit Brioche Dough Ingredients:
1 cup figs, dried, stems removed (about 24)
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1/4 cup cherries, dried, preferably Montmorency variety
1 tbsp orange peel, candied
1 cup Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12 or another Belgian Quadruple-style Ale
1/2 cup unbleached bread flour, preferably organic
1/2 cup whole milk, warmed to 100°F
2 tbsp honey, local variety
2 1/2 tsp instant bread yeast (1 package)
4 each egg yolks, room temperature
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour, preferably organic (plus more for kneading)
1/4 cup soft candi sugar, brown*, or light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, preferably European style, room temperature
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed (optional)

Dried Fruit Brioche Dough Directions:
Place the figs, currants, cherries and candied orange peel into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to chop up the dried fruit into small pieces. Remove the fruit from the food processor and place into a bowl, pouring the Quadruple Ale over the mixture to cover and rehydrate the fruit for 1–2 hours.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, warm milk, honey and dried yeast. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes, creating a sponge-like consistency. Turn the mixer off and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Let the sponge ferment for 1–2 hours (the yeast will feed off the honey and become active).

The sponge is done when it has risen and, when touched, the sponge falls. Add the egg yolks and the beer soaked in dried fruit to the sponge. Turn the mixer on low and let the liquids mix into the sponge. Then mix on medium speed for 2–3 minutes. Turn the mixer off, remove the paddle and replace it with a dough hook.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the sponge, until it is completely incorporated. The dough should be sticky to the touch. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes, then let the dough rest for 5–10 minutes.

Turn the mixer back on medium speed and slowly add the room-temperature butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time, waiting for the dough hook to fully integrate the butter before the next addition. This will take a few minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the sides down if the dough or butter clings to outer walls of the bowl. Once all the butter has been absorbed into the dough, beat the dough on medium for about 3–4 minutes.

Dough Coating Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups soft candi sugar, brown*, or light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon, Ceylon or Vietnamese Saigon, ground
3/4 tsp ginger, ground
3/4 tsp orange peel, dried, powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1/2 tsp clove, ground
1 cup butter, unsalted, preferably European style, melted (2 sticks)
1/4 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar (

Dough Coating Directions:
In a wide bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel, nutmeg and cloves. Mix to incorporate the spices evenly into the sugar. In another bowl, add the butter, and melt.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly flour-dusted work table. Sift a little more flour over the top of the dough, and knead for a few minutes until the dough is soft and easy to spread out. Using a rolling pin (dusted with flour), roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 12 by 18 inches. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Place a hazelnut in the center of each square and wrap in the dough. Roll the dough between your palms, making the shape of a ping pong ball. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Next, using some of the melted butter and a pastry brush, lightly coat the inside of a Bundt pan. Lightly sprinkle the bottom of the pan with some of the sugar mixture, then a few of the pearl sugar cubes. Now, take a dough ball and dip it into the melted butter, turning to coat evenly. Using your hands or a fork, transfer the dough ball to the sugar mixture, toss to evenly coat, and place into the prepared pan.

Repeat the process of dipping and rolling the dough balls, arranging the dough into a layer over the bottom of the pan. Lightly dust the layer with some of the sugar mixture and some of the pearl sugar, drizzling with some of the butter. Repeat, adding another layer with the remaining dough balls. Dust the top of the balls with the last of the sugar mixture, drizzle with some of the remaining butter and top with the pearl sugar. Tightly wrap the pan with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight, allowing the dough to rise slowly.

The next morning, remove the prepared pan from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the dough sit, warming up for about 20–30 minutes. Unwrap the pan and place it into the center of the oven. Bake for 50–60 minutes, until a temperature probe reads 195°F in the center of the bread. Remove the bread from the oven and let rest for 3–5 minutes, then cover the pan with a larger diameter plate, flipping it over, releasing the bread onto the serving platter.

Rochefort Drizzle Topping Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2–3 tbsp Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12 or another Belgian Quadruple-style Ale

Rochefort Drizzle Topping Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and the beer until smooth. Drizzle this topping evenly over the hot Noël Bread. This bread is best served warm.