Islington Beer Bread

I’m a bit obsessed with baking bread at the moment, as I might be going to sell some at the brewery open day in October.  So I am reading about bread, watching YouTube videos about bread, talking to people about bread, and eating a lot of bread!  All in the name of research of course.


I was really, really pleased with how this batch of two loaves turned out.  I made them to Carole Fahy’s recipe and I’m going to write down exactly how I did it, so that I can replicate this…


For future reference, I need to bear in mind that it was super, super hot in London last night.  So my kitchen was in the perfect frame of mind to puff up the dough during the proofing stage…

Here’s Carole’s recipe, with my notes in brackets.

1/2-3/4 oz fresh yeast (I used 21 grams fresh yeast.  I left it out of the fridge for a few hours)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 lbs plain flour (I used Dove Mills Strong White Bread Flour – 907g)

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 pint water

1/2 pint brown ale (I used Hammerton’s Islington Steam Lager)

Cream the yeast with the sugar (I did this in a small saucepan) and add to the water and beer (I added these into into the saucepan).  Sift flour and salt into warm mixing bowl (I’d had mine in the oven for 10 minutes or so after I’d used the grill to make some toast); make a well in the centre.


Warm liquid and yeast and pour in (I just heated the liquid up for a couple of minutes on a pretty hot hob, stirring all the time), drawing enough flour into the liquid to form a thick batter.


This is before I started mixing in the flour – nice and bubbly already…

Sprinkle the top with flour (I just used a handful), cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for about 1/4 hour in a warm place.  Work remaining flour in by hand to form dough and knead well on a floured surface (I didn’t use any flour, I kneaded it for about 6 minutes until the dough was smooth and glossy, not sticky any more).


Lightly grease a large warm bowl (make sure it is large enough to leave the dough plenty of rising room) and place dough in it, turning a couple of times to grease whole surface.  Make a light cross cut in top,


cover with a damp cloth and leave for about 1 and 1/2 hours in a warm place until double its size.


Knead dough lightly again on a floured surface (I missed this bit of the recipe, and didn’t knead again) and cut in half.  Heat oven to 425 degrees F, 220 degrees C gas mark 7.  Shape loaves.  Grease 2 loaf tins and put dough into them,


cover with a cloth and leave to prove for another 1/4 hour.  Bake for 25 minutes, then lower heat to 400 degrees F, 200 degrees C gas mark 6, for a further 10-15 minutes baking, when loaves should be slightly shrunk from the sides of the tins and well-browned.  Tip out onto a rack to cool.

Behold the splendour of my loaf!


Here are some timings.  I started baking at 6.30pm.  It took 1/2 an hour to get to the first tea towel rest.  The second rise probably only took about an hour as my kitchen was very hot.  So I got the loaves in the oven a little earlier.  The loaves were out of the oven at 9.45pm so altogether a 3 and 1/4 hour process.  But there was very little hands on working time.  Most of that time I was having my dinner and washing-up!

The loaves were looking very brown after the first 25 minutes and I was worried about burning them, so when I turned the oven down, I set it to about 190 degrees for fear of burnage.  They were a lovely colour when they came out though, perfect.  I have a regular oven, but if you have a fan oven, you may want to have your oven temperatures lower.

I used butter to grease the bowl and the baking tins, but if I make these to sell, I’ll use sunflower oil so they are OK for vegans.

The loaf I baked in my silicon loaf tin (?) wasn’t quite as nice to look at as the one baked in the metal tin.  But I think it was also something to do with how I shaped the loaves.  Need to do some more research on that.  It looked less home-made somehow…  Here’s the silicon version of the bread sliced.  I wonder if a second kneading would have distributed the bubbles more thoroughly?


I live in a block of flats, on the fourth floor and there is no lift.  There’s a beautiful communal garden which I never use, basically because I am too lazy to walk down the stairs and back up again.  But I decided to make a ceremony of trying my bread, so I toasted two pieces, put butter and peanut butter on them and went downstairs with gherkins, black pepper, a thermos of coffee and a mug.  I was VERY pleased with myself.  The bread was absolutely delicious.  A highly recommended recipe!


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