Pumpkin Cider Bread: A Straightforward Baking Post

(Yes, there’s a recipe at the end of this, because I’m totally gonna do that food blogger thing for a minute. Sort of.)
Recently I picked up a 6-pack of Woodchuck pumpkin cider, because I AM the target market for all things apple, gingerbread, and pumpkin, and will cheerfully try just about anything that involves them. I have zero shame about this. I was a bit dubious, because I wasn’t sure how fermented pumpkin juice was going to play out, but I was hopeful. Woodchuck has rarely steered me wrong.

To my dismay, it was just not remotely palatable. It’s deeply weird, and not in a pleasant way. I had Himself try it, and tell me what he thought, and his response was a single word: “Bread.”

I make beer bread in the fall and winter A LOT. It’s quick, it’s easy, it goes with just about anything, and as a bonus, it’s a good way to dispose of extra bottles of beers that looked interesting but turned out to be not to our taste. Something about the alchemy of baking soda, heat, and beer transforms sharp, bitter, or just…odd…flavor profiles into soft, toasty goodness with a buttery, crunchy crust that goes well with a good soup or stew.
I’ve never used a cider, though, and had no idea if it would work. In theory it should, but one never knows until afterward. Still, it was worth a shot. Worst case, it didn’t pan out, I toss the rest of the cans, and lessons are learned.

Of course, then we promptly had two tropical storms come through (with surprise! tornado activity!), and a heat wave with temps near 100F. Even with air conditioning, that is not baking weather.

Today, though, the heat broke, and it’s deliciously autumnal. Today was the day to see if pumpkin cider makes passable bread.

Y’all, this might be the BEST quickbread I’ve ever made. ALL of the weird, jarring flavor profiles mellowed into a subtle sweetness that is amazing. It went really well with the chicken goulash I made for dinner, as well. This is definitely going into rotation, and will need to be tested with other ciders, as well.

It was so good, I wanted to share it with you, so here it is:

Cider (or beer) Bread

3 cups AP flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
12 oz. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider (or the beer of your choice)
3 Tbs. melted butter (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 375F.
2.) Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with vegetable shortening.
3.) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together, making sure brown sugar clumps are broken up.
4.) Pour in cider or beer and mix with baking spoon of choice (I use wooden spoons or silicone spatulas, but use whatever works for you) until just combined. Batter will be thick and sticky.
5.) Pour batter into greased pan and smooth out so that it’s spread into all corners. If desired, pour melted butter evenly over top. (The butter’s not necessary, but it does make for a better crust and a softer bread, and I recommend not skipping it.)
6.) Bake for about 40 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
7.) Cool on cooling rack.
8.) Attempt not to devour entire loaf in one sitting, tempting as it may be.