Baking With Beer: Ale Bread

Beer and bread are natural bedfellows – they both need yeast to bring them to life. If you use a beer which still has dormant yeast in it, like many of the bottle-conditioned craft beers around today, you can make bread without additional baker’s yeast. But for our purposes, we went with a recipe which used a leavening agent. This freed us up to pick any beer we liked.

To mix things up a bit, we thought we would split the recipe and try two different beers to compare the flavours. After some deliberation we chose two ales by Bath Ales: Barnsey and Gem. Barnsey (4.5%) is a dark bitter with a distinctive toasted flavour, whereas Gem (4.8%) is an amber ale with more of a sweet/bitter balance. Both are made with English hops – Bramlings Cross and Goldings respectively. So how would these two different ales differ when baked into bread?

DSC_0045We used a Paul Hollywood basic bread recipe from his How To Bake book.

We started by weighing out a mixture of white and wholemeal bread flours.

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Add salt, yeast and butter, keeping the salt and yeast separate so the former doesn’t retard or kill the latter.

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Next – time for the beer!

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Add the beer to your mixture and work it into a dough.

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Time to take out some aggression and knead that sucker!

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Then prove for a couple of hours until it’s doubled in size.

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Now you can knock it back and shape it. We made little tear-and-share rolls.

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Those little rolls have to go through their second proving for about an hour. Then we’re ready for the oven!

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A little tray of water in the oven to steam and crisp up our crust, and there you have it!

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So which beer made the better bread? It has to be said, for us it was Barnsey all the way. The Barnsey dough got a noticeably better rise than the Gem on both proves and it had more flavour when it came out of the oven.

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So there you have it – ale bread! We’re definitely going to try some other beers in our bread – seeing how well the darker beer worked we might try going even darker next time… maybe a stout? Worth a shot!

Have you baked bread with beer? What did you use and how did it turn out? Get in touch and let us know!

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– PS

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One thought on “Baking With Beer: Ale Bread

  1. Pingback: Tear and Share bread: Technical challenge 3 on The Great Irish Bake Off | A Bakers Diet

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