It was only a matter of time before beer found it’s way into the mix of my bread making obsession (evidence here, here and here). And this weekend I just happened to have one lonely Sierra Nevada Pale left that begged to be used for a loaf of crusty pot bread. Well it didn’t beg, it just said “glug glug” as I poured it into the mixer bowl.
From Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett
4 1/2 cups (22.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose white flour or unbleached white bread flour, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Scant 2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 teaspoon instant, fast-ri9sing or bread machine yeast
1 bottle (12 ounces) well-chilled pale ale or beer
2/3 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Vegetable oil or oil spray for coating dough top
3 tablespoons sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or 1 tablespoon each sesame, poppy, and flax seeds blended together for garnish (optional)
First rise: In a large bowl thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Vigorously stir in the ale and ice water, scraping down bowl sides completely and mixing until the bubbling subsides and the dough is thoroughly blended. If it is too dry to mix together, gradually stir in just enough more ice water to blend the ingredients; don’t over-moisten as the dough should be stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir dough. Turn it out into a well-oiled 3-4 quart bowl. Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, refrigerate the dough for up to 10 hours; this is optional. Let rise at cool room temperature (about 70 degrees F) 12-18 hours; if convenient, vigorously stir once during the rise.
Second rise: Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center all the way around until mostly deflated; don’t stir. Brush and smooth the dough surface with oil. Re-cover the bowl with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap. Let rise using any of these methods: for a 1 1/2- to 21/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 45-minute to 2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from the deflated size, removing the plastic if the dough nears it.
Baking Preliminaries: 20 minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees F. Heat a 4-quart (or similar) heavy metal pot or Dutch oven or a deep 4-quart heavy, oven-proof saucepan in the oven until sizzling hot (check with a few drops of water), then remove it, using heavy mitts. Taking care not to deflate the dough, loosen it from the bowl sides with an oiled rubber spatula and gently invert it into the pot. Don’t worry if it’s lopsided and ragged-looking; it will even out during baking. Very generously spritz or brush the top with water, then sprinkle over the seeds. Immediately top with the lid. Shake the pot back and forth to center the dough.
Baking: Reduce the heat to 425 F.Bake on the lower rack for 55 minutes. Remove the lid. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the top is well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until the center registers 208 to 210 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Then bake for 5 minutes longer to ensure the center is baked through. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the loaf to the rack. Cool thoroughly. Makes 1 loaf, 12-15 slices.
The combination of hops and malt make this bread a little bitter. You can definitely taste the beer, which for a good many of you I know is probably a tasty prospect. It tastes amazing toasted with sweet or nut butter, and as Neil and I have joked, it makes good “adult” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Patience to wait through the rises will be a virtue, but this bread is well worth it.