With almost a whole can of beer and no eggs or milk, this unusual loaf bread makes a quick and tasty accompaniment for soup or salad (try tomato and lettuce for a deconstructed BLT). If you want to make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon but not the cheese – it's essential. And don't be tempted to line the tin with baking paper – the oil and contact with the metal pan helps form the delicious crust.
4 thick rashers of bacon (about 100g), roughly cut into 1.5cm pieces
½ onion (about 100g), roughly cut into 1.5cm dice
2 tsp oil, for greasing the tin
300g plain flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
125g mature cheddar cheese, grated, plus 20g extra for topping
350ml beer, from freshly opened can or bottle
1. Place a frying pan over medium heat and cook bacon pieces for about a minute, or until the fat begins to release, then add the onion. Cook, stirring continually, until the onion has softened and the bacon is light golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain and cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional) and oil the inside of a loaf pan measuring about 20cm x 10cm x 6cm.
3. Place flour, brown sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and thyme into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and aerate a little, then add the 125g grated cheese and the reserved bacon and onion and mix well. Pour in the beer and fold gently but swiftly to combine – be careful not to stir any more than is absolutely necessary as this can lead to overworked batter, resulting in a slightly heavy and chewy loaf.
4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and scatter the extra 20g grated cheese on top. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.