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Monday, 10 December 2012

Beer bread

 All though the idea of left over beer may sound strange, I did get left with three quarters of a bottle of London black stout at the weekend, after making Jo's Christmas pudding, so I decided to use it for my bread. As I live in a hard water area, my bread can be slow to rise, but the stout really helped with that!
For this large loaf I used 800g of white flour and 200 g of rye, which gives a wonderful flavour along with the yeasty stout. I then activated 30 grams of yeast in 150 ml of tepid water and while it was frothing up, rubbed 50 grams of butter in the flour and added  tsp of salt.
 I made a well in the center to add the yeast water, well away from the salt, and then gradually mixed it into the flour, adding stout little by little until I had a sticky but not wet dough. I then oiled my work surface and hand and kneaded the dough well - the smell with the added stout at this stage is amazing! Then you knead -  if you're lucky enough to have an electric mixer with a dough hook like the lovely Bosch one I was given, then this makes short work of the job, but even hand kneading isn't difficult, keep going until the dough is no longer sticky but silky, smooth and pliable. Then it's time to put it to rise in a large bowl covered with cling-film.
When it had doubled in size, about an hour and a half, I turned it out on the surface again.
 It was a beautiful caramel colour from the stout, and I shaped it into a long loaf, slashed the top into 1 cm sliced to help with cutting, dusted it with more rye flour and set it to prove covered in a plastic bag, sitting on a baking parchment covered tray.
After 40 mins I turned my oven onto 240 and put an empty baking tray under the oven shelf ready for ice-cubes. 20 mins later we were ready to go, so I tipped a handful of ice cubes onto the hot tray, gave them a moment to explode into steam, and popped in my loaf. If I had a proper NEFF oven, I could use their proving setting and not need all this, one day, one day! Either way, do join their Facebook page for baking tips and more.

 After 25 mins I turned it over for another five to make sure the bottom was cooked through, and it's ready - a huge stout loaf with a wonderful malty flavour which is great with savory or sweet.

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