Monday, 4 February 2013

Light Rye with Beer & Malt

Whenever I go back to restaurant to eat, not a common occurrence these days, I invariably order the same dish. It's not that I am unadventurous, it's just that I have favourite dishes and my memory of how much I enjoyed them keep me from wandering into uncharted territory. This has now become true of my sourdough with beer & malt. I seem to have been baking only this bread since I developed the recipe back in December; it has become my daily bread. Last night however, I decided to add some wholegrain rye to the mix to see if I can wean myself onto something else. This recipe produces three loaves.

You will need:

For the ferment,
1 tablespoon of starter from the fridge
200g of strong white flour
200g of water.

For the main dough,
All of the ferment
1,000g of strong white flour
200g of rye flour
300g of beer
400g of water
100g of malt extract
22g of salt

Begin by putting together the ferment ingredients. Since my boiler broke down and my house is now chillier than ever, this needed 32 hours before it was active enough to add to the main dough ingredients.
Add all the remaining ingredients apart from the salt and mix to form a cohesive dough. Leave to rise overnight. Add the salt and mix in thoroughly. Transfer the dough to a large container, I use a square Tupperware type container with a lid. Leave to rise for at least 4 hours, stretching and folding the dough every hour. This develops the gluten and strengthens the dough. Be careful when stretching and folding the dough to do it gently enough to avoid losing much of the gas that has been forming. When the gluten is showing good signs of development, feeling tighter and stronger, form into three, shape the loaves and transfer to well floured bread baskets for their final rising. The final rise should take between 2 and 3 hours. Bake the loaves, having slashed the tops, for 30 to 35 minutes at 220C.

A greater proportion of rye flour can be used, the texture will be most affected by adding more, creating a denser less lofty loaf.
What with a really full flavoured bread and eggs from my free range chickens, I find I never use extra salt on my breakfast.


  1. Hi Tobi, Do you bake your bread in a regular oven? It always looks SO amazing and crusty! I have a renewed interest in your wonderful breads thanks to a friend on the mainland who has most generously sent me some of her reliable sourdough and some really good instructions. I am going to give sourdough bread baking another try and your bread is my ultimate aim. Most fortuitous that you posted about bread again :). I am also going to give making homemade beer a go (from wort) as I like to make things myself from scratch. It is going to be an interesting few months to say the least :)

  2. Hello again, good to hear from you as ever. My oven is a regular oven, a fan assisted electric oven and not the oven I would have chosen for myself but one that was in the house when I moved in a few years ago. I dream of having a custom made wood burning oven, but I think now that's unlikely to happen. I'm glad to hear you are about to start baking with wild yeast again; the most important things I have learned over the years are: observe what is actually happening to your ferment and only move on to the next stage when the ferment is ready. Living in a hot climate things are going to move on far more quickly than they do for me, just keep an eye on things. It is always better to begin with a small amount of yeast and give it enough food to grow than to introduce a large amount of active starter to a situation where there isn't enough food. Yeast organisms die off very quickly when hungry. I also can't emphasise enough the difference creating a nice tight skin to your loaf by getting good at shaping, will make. It's a tight skin that creates that nice oven burst where slashes open up even more than you hope. I throw a cup full of cold water onto a tray on the floor of my oven when my loaves go in to create steam, this helps both the rise of the loaf and the development of a good crust. Happy baking and do let me know how you get on, best wishes, Tôbi


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