Beer Bread, Round 2

Haven’t heard back from the mailman about his mini-loaf, but the big loaf is almost gone. The heel will make a very petit French toast for breakfast.

I’ve started another batch, but have discovered that 4 am is not necessarily the best time to be throwing ingredients into a bowl. My hand slipped while measuring the vinegar, so it’s a bit more than a tablespoon…So I then thought to compensate by in creasing the beer to water ratio a bit, in case it’s too sour…(Dur. Isn’t sourdough bread SOUR?), so instead of eliminating the spoonful of sugar, I kept it, and then thought to add a teaspoon of italian herbs for “interest,” since I read an article about someone raving over a bread with italian herbs in it…So now I have an Oatmeal Stout Sweet and Sour Italian Herb load in the bowl…Should be an interesting loaf, to say the least…lol!

Update: Well, the herbs are basically unnoticeable (I didn’t put an awful lot in, maybe a half tablespoon), but the overall loaf is one of the best yet. The BHU is already wanting me to start another, so I am using the last of the WW left in the bottle, and have started another loaf with 4 oz. of the “King of Beers,” and actual light lager…

~Kizzle

This is what I mean about recipe tweaking…

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Winter Warlock No Knead At All

Having gotten a taste of making actual bread that could be eaten, and better yet, having the BHU (Beloved Husband Unit) eat most of the loaf by his lonesome, I am encouraged to continue my studies…

On the web, once you get past all the No-Knead basics, you start finding references to Cooks Illustrated and their “jazzed up” version of No-Knead, which they aptly entitle, “Almost No-Knead.” It is the basic NYT recipe, except that the amount of liquid is reduced to 10 oz. from the 12 oz. of the original recipe. 3 oz. of that liquid is now beer, and a tablespoon of vinegar is added. These changes are to impart more of a “natural” sourdough-y taste to the loaf.

I try very hard to stick to a basic recipe when I first try it, making substitutions after I’ve gotten one result by following instructions. Unfortunately, I seldom succeed. Whether by accident or intent, I always manage to “tweak” a recipe just a bit here or there, for better or worse. This Baking Adventure is no different…

Instead of the “mild flavored lager” in the recipe, I used 3 oz. of Winter Warlock

(http://www.bristolbrewing.com/our_beers.asp?brs_id=11
and you can read reviews here:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/848/2883)

W.W. is an oatmeal stout that the BHU really likes, and is often described as having strong “chocolate” and “graham cracker” flavor tones to it. I also added a teaspoon of sugar to the bread to give the yeasties something more to eat.

Shaggy looking dough after 16 hours fermentation

Shaggy looking dough after 16 hours fermentation

Instead of the cast iron Dutch Oven, or even my Awesome Covered Casserole dish, I decided to try using a silicone bread pan I found at the local thrift store…Upon further consideration, I realized that I could possibly kill a couple of birds with one stone, if I used the silicone pan as a no-stick proofer that could go directly into the oven…Hmmm. Of course, a lid needs to go on top to seal in steam for the initial baking period…I have a covered glass Fire King bread dish that I had been planning to try a batch of bread with…

Ah, no luck. The silicone pan (a piece from the “Smartware” Collection hawked on TV) was too big. But the lid fit…I then found that the silicone pan fit almost perfectly in my no-stick meatloaf pan (Yes, there IS a difference, a meatloaf pan is a bit wider and shorter than a bread pan ~ Height is always a consideration for bread, but not so much for meatloaf). This provided support for the glass top. Hooray!

The bread dough looks like it might be a bit much for the pan, though (I’m still not real confident on just how big a one and a half pound loaf should be…). I decide as I prepare to put the pan into it’s “rise before baking” stage that I will cut a chunk off for a mini-loaf to give to my long-suffering mailman. He’s had to haul a good number of cast iron baking pan packages to my front door. I think it only fair to treat him once in awhile to my experiments…He’s been our carrier for decades, so he’s used to me leaving him foodstuffs with the flag up…

I put the mini-lump onto a piece of Reynolds Release foil, that I had previously shaped to fit my bean pot, thinking I would be cutting off a larger chunk. After a half hour, I turn on the oven to 400 degrees (knowing that the thermometer I bought and hung from the rack will read about 435, and then decide to go ahead and use the high heat to re-season a cast iron meatball pan that I purchased (I NEVER can trust the seasoning on my pans, and have to reseason them when I get them…)

Dough, Release foil, and Silicone pan

Dough, Release foil, and Silicone pan

The pans ready to pre-heat in the oven

The pans ready to pre-heat in the oven

When the timer went off, I opened the oven, took out the pans, dropped the silicone pan in with no effort, and popped the glass lid on (after spraying it with Butter Flavor Spray, in case of overgrowth…), wet my hand (a tip I found on the ‘Net) and flipped the mini-loaf out and then into the mini breadpan, which I had sprayed with the “Baker’s Joy” flour and oil spray, then covering it with the foil, and back into the oven!

Pre-heated pans just before putting dough in

Pre-heated pans just before putting dough in

Dough directly into the pans, NO kneading at ALL.

Dough directly into the pans, NO kneading at ALL.

I totally skipped the “minimum” or “almost” kneading part, because I wanted to de-gas that bread as little as possible. For right now, I don’t want a smooth textured, small and even crumb. I want Artisan-style bubbles and holes. And I want them in a loaf that is shaped like a “for realsie” loaf of bread, not some saggy-looking, “free form,” round loaf, ciabatta slipper, or baguette roll. Since you de-gas the loaf everytime you mess with it, I’ve decided not to mess with it.  I did flip the mini-loaf upside down before putting it in the pan, though, to give the gas bubbles a chance to come up from the bottom of the loaf.

We  will see.

At 20 minutes, I peel the foil back from the mini loaf, and brush the top with egg yolk. It’s a big depressed in the middle, possibly  due to who knows what… The big loaf looks luscious, but I won’t brush it for another 15 minutes, when I take out the mini-loaf. I’m totally guessing here for the mini-loaf, since there are no real instructions about them, much less as no-kneads. I lower the oven temp to “375” (I have GOT to move that oven thermometer so I can see it!), and let the mini loaf brown with the foil off 5 minutes after brushing it with egg…Most all of my “scientific” and measured actions is now gone, and I am “winging it” big time…Removing the lid from the big loaf and brushing it with egg, I see the mini loaf is still a bit pale. I’ve lost tons of head taking pictures (dummy!), so decide to give mini-loaf a few more minutes…

Ready to take mini-loaf out of oven after brushing big loaf with egg yolk.

Ready to take mini-loaf out of oven after brushing big loaf with egg yolk.

I am extending the loaf to 55 minutes, because of the silicone pan. The Winter Warlock gives the bread a beautiful color, but makes it a bit harder to tell when it’s done, since it has a lovely beige tone as raw dough…

Well, everything is out of the oven (except the meatball pan, it can cool in there…). For once, it’s fairly easy to resist the urge to cut the bread before it has fully finished cooking (which is why you are supposed to wait an hour after you take it out of the oven). The mini-loaf goes to the mailman, and the large loaf is awaiting the BHU’s arrival home from work…

The mini-loaf baked to give to the mailman, golden and yummy!

The mini-loaf baked to give to the mailman, golden and yummy!

The large loaf in the Silicone pan, fresh out of the oven!

The large loaf in the Silicone pan, fresh out of the oven!

The large loaf, out of its pan, cooling on the rack.

The large loaf, out of its pan, cooling on the rack.


The smell is fantastic. It DOES smell like chocolate and graham crackers! I can’t wait to see how it tastes!!!
Update: Ooooh. No Artisan crumb with the big holes, but OH! What a BEAUTIFUL, smooth texture…And the taste…WOW. Indescribable. I found out NOT to use an egg wash, color be damned. It makes the crust too chewy. The bottom of the loaf is exquisitely crunchy, though. And it’s NOT soggy! YAY ME!
Gotta start another batch of this one tonight, and see if I can get the same yummy loaf twice in a row. No mini-loaf for the mailman next time, ‘tho!

~Kizzle

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment