Friday, March 27, 2015

Bread Number 73: Beer Bread Ferments Oh So Slowly and Wins Taste Race

A pre-Passover enjoyment of soon-to-be forbidden tastes of bread and beer, though just for the week of the holiday. Somehow correct that the making of this beer bread coincided with reading the fermentation section, indeed both the bread and beer chapters, of Cooked. Felt like Michael Pollan himself should have visited my kitchen, though he is definitely a creature of the West Coast and I am decidedly East Coast, if not more specifically the exiled New Yorker.

A four-day, ever so lethargic rise, that finally arrived at the stage of finishing a bulk fermentation. Not sure whether that was the beer or the relatively small amount of starter, taken right from the fridge and not exactly ripe. Still, I like a good sour taste and a slightly burnt crust, even if it was not to the liking of a significant other.

Day 1

350g beer - Snake Dog IPA
42g cornmeal
16g arrowroot flour
243g whole wheat flour
200g bread flour

Mixed well and covered. I let the autolyse sit for 35 minutes. 

autolyse plus - 
70g starter
10g salt
30g water

Mixed the autolyse and the other dough ingredients, including extra water for adequately hydrating the 60 percent whole grain dough.

I did three stretch and folds over the course of an hour and a half, the first at 20 minutes, the second 30 minutes later, and the third another 30 minutes later. Then I let the dough sit in various places due to temperature.

Evening of day 1 - day 4
I kept the dough in cool places for almost 24 hours. Overnight the dough was in the kitchen. During the entire workday, it sat in the basement. Back to the kitchen again, from day two to three, overnight. On day three, I decided that dough needed some warmth. I let it enjoy a full day in a warm kitchen, then at a proper boring bedtime of 9 p.m., I put it in the fridge. It was puffy, though not exuberant. There it was awakened on the morning of day four.

Day 4
Early in the morning, I took the dough out of the fridge and went into pre-baking mode. Since this dough had done so much time in cold environs, I decided it deserved a warm final rise. First a stretch and fold with a 15-minute rest afterward.

Preheated the oblong la cloche in the oven at a toasty 500 degrees. 

I shaped the dough into an untrained oblong shape (the untrained entity being me, not the dough), shorter and fatter than a baguette, though nowhere approaching roundness. I let the dough sit, covered, for an hour. Due to fear of dreadful burns, I let the shaped dough sit on parchment paper and took the dough, on the parchment paper, directly into the now-burning hot oblong la cloche.

Maybe I got carried away with the timing
Immediately reduced oven temperature to 475 degrees and baked for about 48 minutes. (I tried to keep track, but I had to recalculate the timing due to a few minutes of forgetfulness.) The ends and the bottom were a bit burnt, but the bread had a proud, deep brown color, and a cragginess (not a word, really) that made it rustically attractive. And very respectable oven spring, indeed, especially for a dough that had never risen in an expected way.

Yummy! Loved it. Another opinion, however, was voiced in the household, so quite possible I will play around with ingredients and starter ripeness the next time I pour a bottle of beer into a dough bowl.

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