Beer Bread Round Up

I’ve been experimenting!  Getting through my stocks of Hammerton beer at an alarming rate, and filling my flat with bread.  I’ve found a new use for my chicken brick too – I now use it as a bread bin.

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So even if I only ever cook one thing in it (Anthony Andrews’ Spiced Yoghurt Chicken Cooked in a Brick) its “cost per wear” is going down…

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So here’s a round up of the bread made, and the lessons learned…

Beer Sourdough

I tried this beer sourdough recipe by 12 Tomatoes.  At first I was worried by the dough.  It was very, well, CRAGGY is the only word I can think of to describe it…

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But I persevered and followed the recipe to the letter.  It produced two nice looking loaves, one of which I gave to Mr Rathbone Senior for his birthday.

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The bread was much more SOLID than the N1 Sourdough and I think I am going to try and perfect that recipe for selling at the brewery.

Lessons learned from this one:

1 – people REALLY like being given a loaf of homemade bread for their birthday

2 – even if a dough does’t look promising, it MIGHT make a decent loaf.  Have faith!

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Islington Beer Bread

Decided to do a second test run on Carole Fahy’s recipe and it was a complete fail.  This is because I heated the beer up too much and killed the yeast, I think.  The dough didn’t rise as it should, so bearing in mind the “have faith” comment above, I decided to just leave it in my airing cupboard while I was away at Mr Rathbone’s place overnight to see what happened.  When I came back the dough had risen almost to the top of the bowl.  I kneaded it and gave it a second rise but on baking, it came out like two thin bricks.  I was so ashamed of it, I didn’t even take photos.  Must get a thermometer!  Ikea here I come…

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French Bread with Geisst Weiss

I had some French bread flour knocking around and decided to have a go at beering it up.  I cooked one of the loaves in my chicken brick – cost per wear is now going down even faster…  The recipe was from this great book:

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The resulting bread was good, had a really nice flavour, but wasn’t like the French bread we all know and love.

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The one on the left was baked in the chicken brick, the one on the right just freeform on a baking tray.

I plan to give the first bread recipe I ever tried – Vincent Price’s French style House Bread – another go with some Geisst Weiss.  Somehow this beer seems the right pairing for a French bread, even though it’s got a German name…

Richard Bertinet’s Ale and Yeast Poolish Bread

Despite the general house rule of “no more cookbooks” there seems to be a little corner of my kitchen that is now full of smuggled in, bread related tomes.  I treated myself to Crust:

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as Battenberg Belle went on a break making course with Richard Bertinet and she LOVES HIM.  I remembered her showing me his very odd kneading technique when I went round one day and she showed me how to make brioche buns.  I had a go at his recipe for bread made with an ale & yeast polish using his slap and fold method.

Result was a really, really nice bread.  Great texture, lovely refined taste and good crumb.  But, I’m not sure it actually looked PHOR enough to sell at the brewery…

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This was SO GOOD toasted with cheese on top and some N1 Hot mustard.  Arrrrrrggggg!

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I am making bread a couple of times a week at the moment, and went on an incredible TWO DAY BAKING COURSE with the wonderful Bread Angel Juli Farkas.  Will write it all up when there is a moment between mixing, kneading, proofing, baking and eating…

If you would like any of the above recipes, just email me via the Silver Screen Suppers Contact page and I’ll send them over.

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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,

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

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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,

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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!

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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?

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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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Jane Wyatt’s Beer Bread

My movie star cooking blog Silver Screen Suppers was ten years old yesterday.  Crikey!  I did a post about my top 50 film star recipes, and this was one.  I had no idea how easy it would be to make bread with beer.  No mucking around with yeast, wondering if your water is warm enough to activate it, or too hot and will KILL IT.  With beer, the beer does all the work.  Magic.

I soooooooo recommend trying this.  First time I made beer bread, I made it with Hammerton’s Islington:

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Second time with Hammerton’s Pentonville.

Jane Wyatt's Beer Bread with Hammerton's Pentonville

Next time around, I’m going to try it with Life On Mars I think…

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Thanks Jane!  I love your bread recipe…

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Jane Wyatt’s Beer Bread

(Makes 1 loaf)

¼ cup butter

3 cups self-raising flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 can beer*

Melt butter in preheated 325 degrees (160 degrees C) oven.  Mix together remaining ingredients; pat into a greased loaf pan.  Drizzle melted butter over bread dough.  Bake at same temperature 1 hour.

* I used one 330ml bottle of Hammerton beer and 1 and1/2 tablespoons water.  I baked my bread at 140 C as I have a fan oven.