October 2, 2012

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No! It's Beer Bread!

   I recently made some bread from my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. There is a plethora of recipes in there, but one kind of bread is conspicuously missing from their book- beer bread. I love beer, and I love the beers that the fall season brings- the Octoberfests and the pumpkin ales.

   After a little trial and error, I finally came up with a modification to their basic recipe. Most beer breads I've seen are soft loafs that you pour into a loaf pan and bake. But I'm in the market for a crusty loaf, akin to the ones I often make. I started with that recipe for Basic Bread to make my modifications.

   The first batch I tried by replacing half the water with beer. Conveniently, a 12 oz bottle of beer is 1 1/2 cups of liquid- precisely half of the water in the original recipe. I also reduced the yeast by half. The beer flavor was very mild in the resulting bread, and it didn't rise quite as much as it should have. This means I needed more beer, and a little bit more yeast. Another batch was made with these changes, and the result was breaded beery goodness.

Beer Bread
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
makes 4, 1lb loafs

What You'll Need:
2, 12oz room temp bottles of beer, I used and Irish Red.
2 tsp granulated yeast
1 Tbs salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
a large container, preferably with a lid

The Process:
   When selecting a beer, just remember this is where you'll get almost all the flavor. If paring it with a meal, choose a beer that will go well with your meal. I chose an Irish Red because I like that style a lot. Also keep in mind that the beer has to be room temp in order to get the yeast to activate correctly.
   The steps are very similar to the Basic Bread recipe I posted last week. Put your warm beer, yeast, and salt into your container. Dump all the flour in at once and mix well. Once all the flour is incorporated, you'll be left with a wet, sticky dough. Loosely cover with your lid (or plastic wrap in a pinch) and let rise for three hours. This is an increase from the Basic Bread because the beer won't be lukewarm and you want to give the yeast a bit more time.
   If you're not making your bread immediately, cover loosely and put into the refrigerator. You can make some bread at this stage, but because this dough is very wet, it'll be easier to handle and shape the loaf after it's chilled. When you're ready to bake, cut off a 1 lb piece of the dough. You may want to dust your hands with a bit of flour to prevent any sticking.
   Form the dough into a ball (or a shape of your choosing) and place onto a floured pizza peel to rest for 40 minutes. It won't rise very much during this stage, and that's normal. While it's resting, preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your baking stone in place and a metal pan on the rack underneath. After it's rested, slash the dough several times across the top. Make sure they're not too shallow, about 1/4" deep.
   Transfer the dough to the baking stone with the pizza peel and pour a cup of hot water into the metal pan you placed under the baking stone. The steam from this water is what gives the outside that nice, crispiness. You can omit it if you prefer a less crunchy exterior. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on the outside.
   Take your bread out of the oven, and place it on a cooling rack. Again, this is the hardest part of baking bread- don't tear that delicious bread loaf open immediately. It needs time to rest to finish cooking inside. If you cut it up too soon, the inside will still be gummy. Wait until it is room temperature, about 4 hours, before cutting it.
   If you want to serve the bread warm after this cool down phase, you absolutely can. Before slicing, heat your oven up to 400 degrees. Place the loaf inside the oven and then turn it off. Take the loaf out after about ten minutes, slice, and serve.
   As withe the Basic Bread, you can store any unused dough in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...