Saturday, March 14, 2009

Guinness Rye Bread

This is another recipe from my ambitious list, adapted from one in my Mark Miller book. It was originally called Liberty Ale Rye Bread, but since I had never heard of Liberty Ale and didn’t care to go on a super search for it, I went for the adaption. In addition, the note before the recipe says you can use a stout “for a darker, more intense bread.” When I see stout I automatically think Guinness. And it is March. I do have a special recipe coming up for St. Paddy’s day that involves the brilliant beer, but you’ll just have to wait for that.

Anyway, I meant to post this recipe days ago. We’re on the second loaf now. The benefit, though, is that I’ve tried it a number of different ways and can tell you it is amazing with pretty much anything. It’s very tasty with meats and sharp cheeses (the intense, interesting flavor really lends itself to that), as toast with goat cheese or jam, as a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar and pickled onions, by itself, with egg salad. It’s versatile, it’s different, and it will definitely make your sandwich awesome.

This bread may also mark the first time I was able to properly shape a loaf that wasn’t challah. Although the first rising was a bit slow (it’s been on and off cold here) and the dough was ridiculously sticky in the beginning, by the time I shaped them, it was wonderful. I don’t mind doing a bit of battle with my bread; doing so makes the results so much more worth the time.

Guinness Rye Bread adapted from Liberty Ale Rye Bread from Flavored Breads:

Makes 2 loaves

1½ c. Guinness (I used Extra Stout), at room temperature
2 Tb. dark molasses
1 Tb. olive oil
2½ tsp. dry active yeast
1¼ c. rye flour
2 c. bread flour
2½ tsp. salt (I used kosher)

Combine the beer, molasses, and oil in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture, stir in, and let sit for 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients (flours and salt). Mix with the dough hook (or knead by hand) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough appears silky and resilient. I finished mine of by hand as it was still very, very sticky in the mixer. Plus, it just feels nice to knead bread. If you like to finish yours off by hand, remove the dough from the mixer a few minutes before the finish time, turn out on a floured surface, and work by hand. You’ll get the same results and it’s a very relaxing activity.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (like on top of a warmed oven) for 1½ hours, or until approximately doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down again, re-cover with the plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes. Place a baking stone (if you have one. I don’t) on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into two equal pieces. Grease two loaf pans or generously dust a baking sheet with rye flour. I went for the loaf pans. Shape the dough into oblong loaves. With the heel of your hand, flatten and pull the dough horizontally into an oblong shape. Beginning with the long bottom edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style and pinch the same firmly to seal. Tuck in the ends and even out the load by gently rolling it with the palms of both hands.

Place the loaves in the prepared loaf pans or on the baking sheets, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Uncover the loaves and, using a spray bottle, spritz them with water, then dust with rye flour. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes in the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife to allow the dough to expand in the hot oven. Using the spray bottle, spritz the oven walls with water. Work quickly so the oven does not lose heat.

Set the loaf pans or baking sheet on the hot stone, again, if you have one. Mine were fine without it. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and deep brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Transfer the loaves to a rack and cool completely before cutting. If you can wait. I have a few more cool recipes that I really want to do out of this book that are on my list, so look forward to that. Every single one I have tried so far has been delicious and fun.

PS: I love how the edges of my cookbooks seem to appear in the background of so many of my photos.

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