Monday, 10 December 2012

Beer & Malt Sourdough

There is something special about the notion of making bread with nothing more than flour, water, salt and wild yeast. The french even have laws concerning it. For those of us who dare to add ingredients however, there are occasional rewards that make it all worthwhile. This bread that I put together using locally brewed beer and malt extract has the most wonderful crust and delicious cream coloured crumb. The crust, because the bread uses wild yeast, is chewy and has great depth of flavour, the slight sweetness from the malt enhances the savoury notes from the caramelization.

Here is the recipe that produced these loaves, however I shall tweak the proportion of liquid in my next batch. Click here for the second batch The low ambient temperature, although excellent for flavour development, is more suited to a slightly firmer dough.

For the ferment:
1 tablespoon of starter
200g of strong white flour
200g of water.

For the main dough:
All of the ferment
1200g of strong white flour
100g of malt extract
400g of water
300g of beer, I used a locally brewed ale called Hares Hopping.
22g of salt.

Begin by putting together the ferment, mix the ingredients and place in a 2 pint bowl to gently get on with fermenting until you achieve a billowy mass. This is described in earlier posts. I usually allow 12 hours from morning to night to do this, but then I live in a cold climate.

Last thing before going to bed, I mix all remaining ingredients, apart from the salt, to form a soft dough. Leave covered to ferment overnight. In the morning, mix in the salt and leave the dough to rise, stretching and folding every hour for 4 hours. Divide the dough in two and form two large round boules. Place the dough in proving baskets, seam side up and leave to rise for 3 hours before baking in a hot (220 degrees) oven for 35 minutes.

I placed a ring of plaited dough in the proving basket before placing in the loaf, but despite taking time to do this, the result was a bit pathetic and certainly requires more thought on my part!

This is most definitely the bread to make breadcrumbs for the Christmas puddings.


  1. Your bread always looks incredible. One day I will make bread like this and will feel like I have reached my own personal baking Nirvana :). There are bakeries out there that need to sign up for this blog...real bread needs to be out there for everyone to try. Cheers for sharing "how to" with us all :)

  2. I'd like to second that emotion....Your blog is inspiring...I have now made this bread 5 times and each time the end result is better (My technique improves every time) It is fantastic tasting bread and a simple dough to make for even an eejit like me....The taste actually improves with time. Have also tried the Stollen recipe and that likewise had a great taste although I could possibly shore up the house with the resulting texture but that's down to my poor baking skills and not your recipe....Also your photo's of the end results are great...I hate you :-) Keep up the good work


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