N7 Sourdough

I loved #SourdoughSeptember and I made another two sourdough loaves to the Bojon Gourmet recipe, this time with N7. I wanted to see if the beer flavour was more pronounced, and just to practice, practice, practice sourdough techniques.

Biggest lessons learned:

1 – don’t think you can make two loaves of sourdough bread before work, and still get in on time.

2 – don’t walk away from the oven without checking you haven’t knocked the temperature dial a bit.

3 – always pay full attention to the recipe.

4 – don’t put a cup of water on your carefully written out testing notes…


So the jottings that follow cover what I did a bit differently to last time. I did some time shifting basically, beginning the process at 5.30pm with a sourdough starter that I took out of the fridge to warm up a bit at 1pm.  Here’s a link to the original recipe that I’m basing the N1 / N7 Sourdough on, with lots of fiddling around…


Rather than using my stand mixer, I decided to try the Magimix. It did not go well. In fact I thought I had broken it (luckily not). Too much dough for the Magimix. It took me one hour to get to the proofing stage.

I put the dough in a large bowl with cling film over the top out in my fire escape overnight. There’s never any room in my fridge (it’s tiny), so I treat my fire escape like a larder…


Next morning at 6 I brought the dough into the kitchen to warm up a bit (would have left it for longer if I’d had time). It had risen very well, and looked good. I shaped it into two boules and popped in my airing cupboard inside a blown up bin bag as per Boujon Gourmet’s recommendation.

The first loaf went into the oven at 8am (I’d put the oven on around 7.10am with my Le Creuset casserole dish inside to heat up.

This time I just used cornmeal on the bottom of the dish – I didn’t bother with the baking parchment, it didn’t seem to affect the bottom of the loaf.

I must have knocked the temperature dial at some point, as when I checked at 20 minutes, it had been cooking at around 235 degrees, and I can’t read in my notes what I did next because of the cup of water!  I think that I turned it down to about 205 and looked for another 10 minutes.  Whatever I did, the loaf looked fine.

I turned the oven back up to 225, which is where it should have been (it took around 5 minutes to get back up to temperature).  Cooked for 20 minutes, and then another 10, forgetting to turn the temperature down – doh!  The loaf was a little bit burned on the bottom but not too bad.


Both loaves tasted great.  I didn’t feel as though the N7 loaves tasted more beery than the N1 loaves.  In fact, I preferred the taste of the N1 loaves.  For some reason, the rye flavour was more pronounced…


#SourdoughSeptember was brilliant and there is a loaf in the oven right now, made to Dan Lepard’s recipe using a beer barm.  I have used Hammerton’s Life on Mars so am thinking of this loaf as a Barmy Bowie Bread…



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.


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…


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…


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.


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!


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…


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:


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


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:


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…


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


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.

Walnut and Cherry Cake with N7

The recipe from this cake is from my favourite beer-y cookbook: Cooking With Beer by Carole Fahy.


What a splendid book it is!  Anyone would love a book that contains recipes that include recipes for Yard of Flannel (a beer and cognac beverage), Party Beer Tomatoes (thinly sliced tomatoes with beer poured over them) and Eels in Beer (versions 1 and 2).


I probably won’t try the Eels in Beer, but there are LOADS of other recipes in this book I’m going to experiment with.  Carole puts beer in EVERYTHING.


If you come round to my house uninvited and expecting dinner, don’t be surprised if I take Carole’s advice and do this..  “By the way, if you do have an unexpected guest, almost any tinned soup is much improved by the addition of a little beer, for an unusual flavour that will disguise its origins.”


Nathan got me some of this soup when he went to the USA recently on condition that I never made him anything with it in (I need it for a Bette Davis recipe that will appear sometime soon on my other blog Silver Screen Suppers)  I bet he’d LOVE it if I diluted it with a bottle of Hammerton beer though…

I love the fact that this photo was in the search results when I looked up Carole’s book – why?  I have no idea.

Alice Cooper

Colonel Saunders with Alice Cooper holding a beer.  Genius!

Anyhow, back to the cake.  This was REALLY GOOD.  Of course, I am sure it was the two tablespoons of Hammerton’s N7 that made it so…

I used tinned cherries from Waitrose rather than glace cherries, and I used walnuts from Ma and Pa Hammerton’s walnut tree.

What is “old ale” listed in the ingredients of this recipe by the way?  Is it a type of beer, or is it just some stale ale you find in a can beside the sofa a few days after you’ve had a rocking big party?



6 oz self-raising flour

pinch salt
6 oz butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
4 oz glace cherries (halved)
2 oz walnuts (chopped)
2 tablespoons old ale

Heat oven to 350 degrees F, 175 degrees C, gas mark 4, and prepare cake tin*  Sift flour and salt together.  Cream butter in a bowl with sugar.  Beat eggs and whisk into the butter mixture.  Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with the fruit and nuts.  Fold flour into eggs and butter, a third at a time, adding fruit at the end.  Mix with beer.  Turn into cake tin and cook for 1 hour in pre-set oven.  When cake is cooked a fine skewer inserted in it should come away clean.

For cooks who don’t have Imperial measurements on their scales, I find this site brilliant for translating into grams and/or cup measurements – Convert-me.com
*Carole uses the same method as my mum to prepare her cake tin.  She butters the sides and bottom of the tin and then lines with well buttered greaseproof paper – cut to shape (her italics!).  She folds the strip that goes around the inside over by 1/2 inch and makes 1/2 inch cuts in the fold so that you can overlap it and lie flat on the bottom, underneath the greaseproof paper circle for the bottom.  As I had a bit of time, I did prepare my cake tin like this and it was worth the effort.  My cake looked absolutely perfect when I turned it out!
A big hit with my work colleagues!