07 February 2008

3-Beer Bread; or, Using Every Part of the (Home Brewed) Buffalo

So I suppose a more accurate name would be "Thrice Barleyed Bread" or "Triple Barley Bread" or some such, but I like the ring of "Three Beer Bread," because it's good and misleading: there are not 3 beers in this bread.
It is (or was), however, a sourdough loaf associated with beer-related ingredients thrice-over.

1) The sourdough starter has been fed, in place of water with a bit of under-carbonated homebrew Dunkel Weizen (I opened the bottle too early).

2) The loaf was sweetened with, instead of sugar or honey, organic barley malt syrup.
3) The loaf included a healthy dose of spent grains from my ESB homebrew.

The whole thing was inspired by a Trebor Brodt (a German spent-grain loaf) that I attempted a few weeks ago. I thought, "why not try it in a sourdough recipe?" And then thought, "Why not feed my sourdough starter with a bit of beer?" And it just took off from there.

I also counted a for-the-most-part success in creating a steam oven for the baking. Place a small cast-iron skillet in the bottom of the oven, and right when the loaf is placed in the oven, pour boiling water into the skillet and shut the oven door. It's much easier with 2 people, but I managed to do it by myself. The steamy oven creates that nice, dark, crisp crust on the bread.

I'm still very much an apprentice when it comes to baking sourdough, and this loaf was by no means perfect, but I was quite satisfied with the results. While still dense, it was by far the least-dense of all my sourdough attempts thus far. I was hoping for a nice boule shape, but the dough slacked out into a blob before I could get it into the oven. I think I know how to tweak this for next time, though!

In addition to being almost-not-dense, the loaf had a lovely orangish tint and a lovely faint-barley aroma. Quite yummy, with those spent grains adding a fun texture. The malt syrup definitely left its stamp with a barleyish sweetness reminiscent of Grape Nuts. I thought the bread was fantastic for sandwiches with honey mustard and chicken salad. Next time I'm going to aspire for a taller loaf-shape, or that elusive boule.

Ah, the joys of cooking with bread, and recycling at least a bit of homebrewing by-product -- and, of course, a great solution for the opened-too-early-not-yet-carbonated beer!

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