My first experiment was to try the bread. Most of the beer bread recipes that I played around with gave me a dense, chewy, overly sweet bread. I decided to use a lean sourdough formula, increase the hydration, and work with a fed starter. After a couple of tweaks here and there, I came to this recipe.
The results are amazing. It gave me a truly complex flavor that distinctly called out the chocolate, the beer, and the sourdough.
- 1 bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout at room temp or a 12 oz bottle of beer + 4 oz of water
- 1 cup of fed sourdough starter
- 5 Cups of bread flour
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp of sea salt
Pour the beer and the starter into the bottom of a mixing bowl. Using the dough hook, mix the beer and starter together for 1 minute to break up the starter. Let it rest 5 minutes.
Add the sugar and the flour and mix for 2 minutes on slow speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and flip the dough over. At this point it should be very sticky and a little shaggy. Mix again for two minutes on low speed. Scrape the dough off the sides and flip it over in the bowl again. Then cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides, flip the dough over in the bowl and then mix again for another 2 minutes on medium speed.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Pour the (still sticky but you should have decent gluten development now) dough into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit on the counter (at approx. 70 degrees F) for about an hour.
Pour the dough onto a floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, fold the dough four times (top over bottom, left over right, bottom over top, right over left). Then brush off excess flour and cover with a damp towel (I use a wet, but rung out paper towel and then loosely cover with the leftover plastic wrap). Let it sit on the work surface for another hour.
Heavily flour two round brotforms (wooden spiral baskets). Cut the dough in half (you can weigh it to make sure each loaf weighs the same amount), and shape each half into a ball. Place each ball into the brotform— seam side up— and cover with a damp towel. Leave them on the counter for about 30 minutes, then place each brotform into the fridge overnight.
Take the loaves out about 90 minutes before you are ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 500F. Make sure you preheat your baking stone along with your oven on the center rack. About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake, fill a metal bowl with water and place it at the bottom of your oven.
Carefully arrange your two loaves onto a parchment paper that’s been dusted with flour. Score the top of your loaves and then spray them with water (using a plant mister). Put the loaves onto the baking stone. I then pour about a cup of water onto the bottom of the oven – creating a burst of steam, then close the door and turn the heat down to 450F.
After about 12 minutes, remove the bowl of water from the bottom of the oven and rotate your loaves. Continue baking until bread reaches an internal temp of 202F.