Tuesday, September 16, 2008

stout + rye bread

my wife once commented, if i could bake bread, anyone could!

she's right, of course! bread baking is sooooo easy.

if you have read my previous post on my "basic bread recipe", then it's easy to just move on with variations of the recipe.

now here's something which really intrigues me. i have been reading about beer bread and it looks really interesting but i have never tasted one before.

not available locally and i didn't even know there is such a thing when i was in the usa back then.

so why not make it yourself and see if it's really that good?

since i prefer stout over beer, hey, let's go for it! and since i like rye a lot, let's do that as well. so here we go.
  • 2 cups of rye flour
  • 2 cups of unbleached wheat flour
  • a 330ml can of guinness stout or beer if you like
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (feel free to use more)
the process is the same as described in "basic bread recipe" but instead of using water, use stout! or beer! heat up to lukewarm (use the finger test. if you can't dip your finger into it for more than 5 seconds, it's too hot.)

i have made this bread 3 times and each time i used slightly more than a can of stout. the last time i did, a can of stout was just nice. but i already opened the other can. oh well, what to do, but to drink it! even though it was only 9 in the morning! see, bread baking is fun!

now rye flour doesn't form gluten well, that's why we need the wheat flour. substitute with all purpose or just plain white flour if you want to. i go for unbleached and the one easily available is of the organic unbleached variety here. excellent...

the dough is a bit heavy to knead but what the heck, kneading by hand is so enjoyable. whenever i bake bread, i do 2 doughs separately, each with a different recipe. so i knead twice. that's how much i like kneading! :)

if you worry that the dough is too heavy, experiment yourself! try 3 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of rye. or 2 cups of wheat flour, 1 cup of wholemeal and 1 cup of rye... don't worry, nothing much can go wrong here. that's how easy bread baking is!

some recipes call for an acidic element to be introduced into the dough, to break down the starch and let water be absorbed into the dough. i've seen recipes calling for 2 tablespoons of yogurt or some ascorbic acid (vitamin c) into the mixture. some use sourdough starter but i don't want to go there... but feel free to experiment.

anyway, such a heavy dough needs plenty of encouragement for the yeast to grow. i let it sit in a cool place for up to 8 hours and let it slowly, very slowly grow.

after 8 hours, dough is slightly more than doubled. proof it and wait for another hour, then bake it!

the long hours really help in developing the flavour. the resultant dough is pretty dark and has a very nice aroma. you could smell it when baking! the flavour is not unlike wholemeal as rye it a type of wholemeal too but the stout adds complexity to the taste. there's nothing to worry about the alcoholic content as it evaporates during baking. hey, at 200 C, alcohol doesn't stand a chance ok?

this is one of my favourite bread which i keep on baking. even if my wife doesn't like it... hee hee!

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