Flour + Beer = Bread

Flour and beer mix well for making bread

By Linda Scovill

I’ve made my own bread on and off for many years. I first experimented with the Joy of Cooking’s, plain white bread—a no-fail recipe that did, indeed, make you feel that breadmaking was easy. But when I tried to experiment with different kinds of flour, such as rye and whole wheat, my loaves resembled bricks, solid and heavy and certainly not edible. So I gave up for many years until I bought a bread machine. Even that did not satisfy my desire for a hand’s on approach…I enjoyed the kneading and the proofing, the punching down to a second rise and finally the baking. So being a cookbook junkie, I scoured my personal library for a recipe that was healthy and combined flours—white and whole wheat—and finally found a recipe in The Best of BetterBaking.com (2002) that I now make successfully on a regular basis. Montreal authors, Marcy Goldman’s and Yvan Huneault’s recipe for “Microbrewery Bread” caught my attention initially because my daughter Johanna (owner of this blog, Durham Foodie) was engrossed in research for a new cookbook on cooking with beer.  So now, this recipe is my “go-to” one for bread. Of course, it helps to buy a large bottle of hearty ale (see authors’ notes below the recipe) so that half goes into the mix and the other half, well, you know…..

Here is the recipe that I use from The Best of BetterBaking.com, accompanied with a photograph of my efforts.

Microbrewery Bread

Makes one large loaf

Ingredients

  • ¼ c warm water
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm beer
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 egg white, beaten until foamy, for glazing

Directions

  • Spray a 9 by 5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, hand whisk the water, yeast, and sugar together and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the beer, oil, salt, whole-wheat flour, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Mix to make a soft mass.
  • Knead with the dough hook on the lowest speed of the mixer for 8 to 10 minutes, gradually adding more bread flour as required to form a smooth and elastic dough.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and form it into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly-greased bowl. Place the bowl in a large plastic bag, close the bag loosely, and let the dough rise for 30 to 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.
  • Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Shape the dough into an oblong and place it in the prepared loaf pan.
  • Brush the loaf with the beaten egg white and put the ban in a large plastic bag. Allow the dough to rise for 30 to 40 minutes, or until almost doubled.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Using a sharp knife, slash the bread on the diagonal and sprinkle with flour. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until browned.
  • Let cool on a wire rack in the pan for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

FROM

The Best of BetterBaking.com cookbook, 2002, page 41

By Marcy Goldman and Yvan Huneault

Comments from the authors: To me, beer is just beer. I bake with it once in a while, and I think I used it as a hair rinse a few years ago. To Yvan and many others, beer can be as refined a beverage as any fine wine. Use a dark brew for a robust bread, and a lighter brew for a more subtle loaf. You may also add caraway seeds and raisins, or toss in some cubes of sharp Cheddar cheese. Enjoy this bread with some Stilton or Cheddar, and a chilled mug of your favorite brew. One visitor to the site wrote: “This bread is outstanding. Lovely color, fabulous subtle taste of malt. Addicted to this bread.”

Books to consider for your cookbook library…all available from your local independent bookstores and on-line book retailers.

  • The Best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman and Yvan Huneault (2002)
  • A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman (2007)
  • A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman (2007)
  • The New Best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman (2009)
  • The Baker’s Four Seasons by Marcy Goldman (2011)

Of course, you can always check out www.betterbaking.com, where Marcy has been the editor, host and master baker since 1997.

 

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