This Beer Batter Bread with Caramelized Onions and Fontina Cheese is a delicious dream come true. It's an easy quick batter bread that's full of savory flavor. It's one of my favorite recipes of all-time!
This Beer Batter Bread is unbelievably good. It's been in my recipe hall of fame for a long time now. In fact, as I was making it today and thinking about sharing it here, I realized I've been making this bread for more than eleven years. Eleven years, I'm realizing, is a world away from now. It's another lifetime. Joan Didion said, "I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be . . ." and I understand the feeling completely.
When I stumbled upon this Beer Batter Bread recipe in a winter issue of Cooking Light eleven years ago, I was married. We hadn't been married a year and we were staying in his parents' basement while I sorted out my graduate school applications. Until this point in my life, the future had always been huge and bright. I could do anything. I might go anywhere. Anything could happen. But during the snowy winter that I turned to this comforting Beer Batter Bread in a warm kitchen in Northern Virginia, the future was full of dark uncertainty.
Eleven years ago I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. And the miscarriage led to further complications, making a difficult situation devastating. I was heartbroken. I was terrified I might never have children. I was far away from my own family and for the first time in years, there was distance between me and my closest college friends as well.
I was working at a big important law firm in DC doing work that didn't feel very big or important and trying to see my next step through a thick fog. For the first time in my life, the future was dark. I didn't know what to do next and the knowledge that anything could happen was no longer an exciting thought. At the end of the day I found great comfort in a bowl of warm chowder and a hot slice of this bread. It was everything, even if it wasn't much.
But that was a lifetime ago. A different person, a different world. Eleven years later, nothing is the same. I moved out west and the husband that cried with me when we lost our baby all those years ago is gone. I can't remember the names of anyone I worked with at that law firm and now I tuck four beautiful kids into bed every night and I feel like the luckiest person alive every time I do. I've lost touch with that person I used to be.
The Beer Batter Bread, however, has remained a constant. It's hard to even remember the person I was then when the person I am now would have been unimaginable. But the bread is a memory keeper of sorts. There are many things I've forgotten, but I remember with clarity the smell of this bread baking in that townhouse kitchen in Northern Virginia like it was yesterday. Today, I'm baking yet another loaf. As its aroma fills our New Mexico house, I remember with clarity exactly how good that first bite is going to be.
This recipe really is a lasting favorite. I share it with you here, confident that it will be loved and devoured. The onions are the star of this show. You begin to caramelize them before you put them in the batter, and as the bread bakes, they get sweeter and more delicious - especially the onions lucky enough to be on the crust of the bread (as you can see in the pictures above).
The fontina cheese adds flavor, but also tenderness to every slice. And then there is the beer of course, which compliments the onions and makes this quick batter bread one to remember. I have to confess, however, that I don't actually drink beer, so I rely entirely on catchy labels when I pick my beer for this recipe. After eleven years of baking this bread though, I can say that the Amber Ales taste best in the finished bread.
One more time, this really is the best quick bread recipe. Really and truly. Pair a warm slice of this with a good soup, stew, or chili and I'm sure we won't need to argue about it at all.