Beer Coffeecake

Beer Coffeecake

Writing and cooking in: Pittsburgh, PA

On Thanksgiving, I had some delicious beer ice cream from one of the waffle trucks in Manhattan. My brother, a friend, and I went down to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and then stuffed ourselves with beer, burgers, and mac ‘n’ cheese bites. After a long walk in Central Park we thought sweets sounded good and tried to find one of those frozen yogurt places where you get a big cup and can fill it as you choose with various flavors and toppings. All the ones we walked to were closed. Just as we were about to give up and head back to the place where we’d gotten lunch to have a slice of pie or cake, I spotted the waffle truck. Belgian street waffles topped with way more things than are good for us, what could be more American? The answer: homemade beer ice cream. Which we discovered was an option as a waffle topping. Skeptical at first we asked if we could taste it. I figured it would either be gross or not taste like beer. Boy was I wrong. The ice cream was made with hefeweizen, a white beer with a bit of a fruity and spiced taste. It came through beautifully in the ice cream that was so white it looked like vanilla. Incredible.

With this ice cream as my inspiration, I started thinking about all the ways one could use beer in sweets. Of course I’ve had stout brownies, they’re delicious, but done quite a bit anymore. I thought about cupcakes, muffins, quickbreads…it all seemed to close to the brownie. So I set out to make a cookie. I found an awesome recipe. And then I decided I wanted to change it. I wanted to make a cookie flavored with a holiday beer and that would take to frosting because that’s Kevin’s favorite part of a cookie and I was baking for his Done-with-grad-school party! And then I thought I’d like to make a bar cookie because after a failed batch of cookie cutter cookies earlier in the week I was over baking them but far from over eating them. And I didn’t want to make the cookies with powdered sugar because the failed batch of cookie cutter cookies had powdered sugar instead of granulated in the recipe so I changed that up real fast. And then I put it all in the oven.

And out came…not a cookie. It was more like a sweet bread. But I frosted it anyway and everyone loved it so much that what we didn’t eat the night of the party got served the next morning alongside our scrambled eggs and coffee.

So I dubbed it a coffeecake, because then it’s not a dessert but a breakfast food. And this coffeecake pairs really well with coffee. Just sayin’.

So, I still don’t have my own beer cookie recipe, but this coffeecake is good enough that I really don’t mind. It’s pretty easy to put together, but takes some time. Making the beer reduction takes more than half an hour, so I recommend reducing it while you’re doing something else in the kitchen like making dinner. Then you can cool the reduction while you eat and put the coffeecake together afterward. Also, the beer reduction will smell like it would taste really great as a pancake syrup, but it’s really too strong for that – perhaps I’ll work on a recipe where I cut it with something and make deliciousness for pancakes…

Beer Coffeecake

2 12-ounce bottle of beer spiced with warm, wintry things like cinnamon

scant 1/3 cup honey

¾ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

½ tsp. vanilla

¾ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ginger

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda


Heat beer and honey over medium heat until reduced to about ½ cup of liquid. This will take a long time, about 30-45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Add vanilla and beer/honey reduction. Gradually add dry ingredients. Grease a 7 x 11 glass baking dish. Spread dough into bottom of pan. Bake for about 28-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.


Beer Frosting


3 cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons softened butter

1 Tablespoon milk

2-3 Tablespoons beer (the same as in the coffeecake or a similar, nicely spiced one)


Beat well until spreading consistency is reached.

Today’s local ingredients:

Milk and eggs, Turner’s Dairy, Penn Hills, PA

Honey, E.H. Reitler, Ford City, PA

I can’t call the Sam Adams beer truly local, but it at least is from the same time zone in the U.S. I used the Winter Lager in the cake and Old Fezziwig in the frosting.

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