Monday, May 31, 2010

High Life Beer Bread

A couple of weeks ago I was boiling some brats, in beer, to thaw them before I put them on the grill. The boiling beer made the whole house smell like fresh baked sourdough bread. Yum. Since then I have thought of nothing but making bread, and using beer in it. Yesterday, the stars aligned, I had everything I needed, I had just cleaned the kitchen, and I made the bread I have been thinking about for over a week.

The first thing I did was search online for 'beer bread'. Most of the recipes I found were for quick breads (no yeast, baking soda or powder for leavening). That was not what I wanted, so I created my own recipe using some guidelines from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" (did I mention that I have misplaced my copy, I think it's at my sister-in-law's house, but I found it on Google books).

Sandwich bread is a standard bread (57-60%hydration) with some enrichment (fat, and or dairy). Using the formula method described in the book, here is my formula/recipe.

Joybee High Life Bread

  • 6 cups flour (1.5 cup whole wheat, 4.5 cup bread) = 100%
  • 1.5 cups warm water, 1-12 oz bottle of room temperature beer = 50%
  • .5 cups fat (.25 butter, .25 almond oil) = 8%
  • .33 cup instant potato flakes = 5.5%
  • 1/2 tbsp salt = 2%
  • .25 cup sugar = 4%
  • about .25 cup roasted garlic (mashed)
  • 1 tsp thyme, 2 tsp basil and 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 package yeast

Set beer (I used Miller Highlife b/c it's my favorite) out at room temperature for a few hours. Roast garlic at about 250 degrees F for about 1 hour. Mix all the dry ingredients (including yeast) in a large bowl. Heat water for 1 minute in microwave, let it sit while you melt the butter, mix it with the oil, and mash the garlic. Once everything is prepared, add all of the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until all the flour is incorporated. This makes a pretty wet dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth, and is not sticky, but still soft. Put in an oil coated bowl, roll to coat all sides and cover with a damp towel. First rise is about 1.5 hours or until dough has doubled in size. Punch down dough, halve it and shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and let rise for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the oven for steam baking. To do this, I use a cast iron on the bottom shelf. Heat the oven (with the pan in it) to 475. While oven is heating, boil some water in a kettle.

Once loaves have risen, turn oven temperature down to 375. Place loves on the middle shelf, right above the steaming pan. Then carefully pour the boiling water into the hot cast iron pan (warning: this will spit, sputter, and steam. Make sure to use enough water so the pan doesn't dry out during baking.). Shut the oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

Take loaves out of the oven, and let cool in pans for about 30 minutes. Remove from pans and bake directly on oven shelf (at 375) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 hours or overnight if possible.


I only added 50% hydration instead of 58% like I initially planned. I was supposed to use 3.5 cups liquid, and I only used 3. However, it did not hurt my bread. I finished baking the bread at about 9:30 last night so I was able to let is cool over night. This morning when I woke up, I immediately cut myself a slice. It was wonderful, the crust is chewy, and the crumb is soft. The after notes of beer give the bread a hint of sourdough flavor (with out all the work). The garlic and herbs also give a nice flavor, but they are very subtle. I plan on making shrimp salad sandwiches with this bread today.

I am eager to hear your comments, and let me know how it tastes using other beers.

1 comment:

  1. I can´t wait to try this bread!! You have so many awesome recipes. Good thing I have the summer off so I can experiment!