Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beer Bread

Barry Harmon on did it again. He posted a recipe for a beer bread that sounded simple and that I immediately wanted to modify. His recipe calls for all purpose and cake flour. So I made it with bread flour. His notes and recipe are found at The title is 2008 06 11 Beer Bread and a Nice Surprise.

I followed his recipe fairly closely using a warm bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Barry did not specify the beer he used) and only bread flour. So here is the modified recipe:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (one package)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar

4 cups bread flour (512 grams). I weighed the flour.
1 1/4 cups warm light beer (285 ml). I weighed the beer.
Note: Next time I will use the whole bottle of beer and skip the water.
2 tsp salt.

I put it all in the mixer bowl and smooshed it together with one hand until it felt evenly wet. Then I went outside to play. After 40 minutes or a little longer talking to my neighbor over the fence, I turned on the mixer for about 5 minutes on my lowest setting (real low no longer works) and let it run. The dough came together nicely. I turned it out and rinsed the bowl, then oiled it and replaced the dough to rise for an hour covered with plastic wrap. Then I went outside to play some more. After all, this is Saturday, Flag day, and I had to install my new flag and pole.

When the flag was installed and the dough was risen, I put it into a floured wicker basket and covered it with plastic wrap again. I turned on the oven to 450 deg F which turned out to be too hot for this bread.

Here is the bread rising in the basket.

Following the instructions I turned out the risen loaf onto the peel lined with parchment and placed it into the oven on the tiles, then added a cup of hot water to the cast iron frying pan that lives in the bottom of my oven. Here is a picture of the bread in the oven on the tiles. Note the steam condensing on the glass window on the left lower corner. Also there is a pizza stone on the top shelf of the oven.

Here is the finished loaf and the crumb.

It turned out that the temperature given in the original recipe, 450 deg F, is probably too high for my oven. The bottom crust burned a little. Next time I will use 400 deg F. Here is the bottom crust picture.

Is it different? I don't really know. The crust is crusty, chewy as it should be. The crumb color is darker than a white bread, but not as dark as a wheat bread. It is chewy and tasty. The bread is easy to make and could be done in a bread pan just as easily for sliced bread.

Barry, its a keeper.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Barry Harmon's French Bread

Barry Harmon is a frequent poster on the news group. Recently he posted this recipe for French Bread

32 oz bread flour
20 oz water
1 Tbs salt
1 packet yeast

It sounded easy so I decided to try it. I mixed the dough in the Kitchen Aid mixer and put it in a plastic tub with a loose lid to rise. After it doubled, I divided it into two pieces and made a fougasse and a batard. The fougasse is a ladder bread with holes in it so it can be pulled apart and eaten as an appetizer. I patted out the dough onto a sheet of parchment in a sheet pan, then covered it with olive oil. I used kitchen shears to cut a leaf design in the flat dough, pulled the holes open and ground Italian spices over the whole thing. A little kosher salt went on last for that salty crunch.
fougasse made with French bread recipe

It looks like I didn't pull the openings open enough. Next time I will. Meanwhile the batard was rising and ready to go into the hot oven. I washed the dough with water and sprinkled raw sesame seeds on top, then cut the dough with my new tomato knife that viince suggested to me. It works wonderful. (Next time I will angle the blade a little to cut less deep.) Here is the batard baking, finished and the crumb.

French bread batard in my oven.

Batard out of the oven, cooling.

Crumb of the batard.

It looks like I didn't roll the batard as tightly as I should. Not too bad for a simple and easy French bread.

Here it all is as we got ready to try the fougasse with some olive oil for dipping, some cheese and a little wine.

Thanks, Barry. We enjoyed the bread.

One note. This bread does not keep well. Bake it and eat it. Although, I did freeze half a loaf while we went away for a week. It made fine toast when we got back.