Beer Sourdough with Wild Garlic Salt Crust

why use water in breadmaking when you can use real beer?

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Making sourdough bread (“paine facuta cu maia”) fills people with dread with talk of petulant starters, the best “hydration” levels, steam in the oven, crumb texture and crust and so on and so on…. If you like all this uber science (and sometimes we all need to access our inner nerd)  a good read is here at The Fresh Loaf  or my much thumbed Dan Lepard’s “The Handmade Loaf”. But all this exalted highfalutin talk, whilst enlightening kind of misses a basic point: that people were making bread from natural home made yeasts for centuries before modern yeast as we know it was first commercially produced in the nineteenth century and they didn’t have food blogs or star artisanal bakers to show them how.

zaganu and maia

So why not have a go at baking like your grandmother: get your hands sticky and have a go with your flour, your starter, your oven and be sensitive to the weather on the day you bake.  Its never going to be a disaster and you are going to have a whole load of self satisfying fun.   Now for the purists adding beer to sourdough probably isn’t right – for a start the beer gives the bread a nutty sweet smell that is not entirely sour.  But what it does do, and you really need the unpasteurised good stuff for this, is add its own yeasts and enzymes.  And so your sourdough bread which might be a bit sluggish at rising if you are not entirely used to it, is probably going to rise more easily and be lighter.   I’ve used the Zaganu “Bere Bruna” here which is  unfiltered and unpasteurised and therefore a living product that helps the bread  develop and adds its own flavour too.

You Are What You Eat

Bread has been part of our diet for 30,000 years. It does not make you fat but it has suffered at the hands of the misinformed and popularist faddy diets.  Bread and in particular wholemeal bread is an important source of B vitamins (thiamin, niacin and folate) and minerals (Iron, zinc and magnesium) and while being mainly a source of our daily carbohydrate it does also contain protein. It contains only traces of fat.  Wholemeal bread, particularly that made with rye flour and enriched with seeds and nuts can help regularise blood sugar. 100g of bread which is approximately two chunky slices depending on the density of your bread contains 266 calories. 

Ingredients (for two small loaves and using one bottle of beer)

300g Starter (“Maia”) – It needs to have bubbles and smell pleasantly fermented and sourish

500ml Beer (“Bere”) – I used the Zaganu “Bere Bruna”

550-775g White Flour (“Faina Alba”) But will depend on your starter and the quality of the flour.  I use the organic Terra Natura from Timis County because high quality flours contain more vitamins and minerals. Use the best quality flour you can find. 

200g Wholemeal Flour (“Faina Integrala”)  This adds texture and nuttiness plus of course more B vitamins

3tsp salt (“sare”)

some extra flour and polenta (“malai”) for dusting

1 beaten egg to brush the loaves with

1 tablespoon of wild garlic salt (“sare de leurda”) to sprinkle on the bread (you can substitute poppy seeds or other seeds)

How To

This is a bread that I dont over knead. Instead I leave it overnight, sometimes even two nights with a bit of punching down, in the fridge to rise slowly…very very slowly.  I cover it with one or two damp tea towels to keep it moist and to stop a crust forming . Its a good bread to make before you go to bed, leave it 24 hours in the fridge and then cook it the following evening. 

Mix all the above ingredients together (except the egg and the garlic salt) well in a large bowl first using a strong metal or wooden spoon and then when it has all come together cover your hands with flour and have a good go at kneading.  If its been a bad day slap out the dough on to your work surface (also dusted with flour) and start bashing it. Its not called therapy its called making bread. Thats just between us.  This dough smells divine so you can sniff it too and nobody is going to call you weird…just “enthusiastic” 😉

sour dough with beer rising

To form the bread, divide into two (or four if you prefer smaller mini loaves) and shape into ciabatta shape loaf shapes like I made here or as I often do, simple round loaves.

Let the bread rise again and this is quite important: It needs to double in volume before you pop it in the oven so leave it somewhere nice and warm covered with damp tea towels.  Just before you put the loaves in the oven, paint the loaves with egg and sprinkle over the garlic salt.

The oven needs to be at your highest possible setting- 250C if you can get there. This bread will take approximately 15-20 minutes.  When it is done it will sound hollow when you tap it.  Smaller mini breads will take 12-18 minutes.  This bread truly smells divine when it is cooking and it is almost impossible to resist devouring it hot.  I recommend serving it warm with butter or a a selection of dips just to enjoy it.  It also freezes brilliantly so after all your travails you can enjoy it again and again. 

Beer Sourdough with Wild Garlic Salt Crust
Serves 6
A sweet nutty sourdough
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g Sourdough Starter ("Maia")
  2. 500ml Beer ("Bere") - try and use unpasteurised beer
  3. 550-775g White Flour ("Faina Alba") But will depend on your starter and the quality of the flour. I use organic flour because high quality flours contain more vitamins and minerals. Use the best quality flour you can find.
  4. 200g Wholemeal Flour ("Faina Integrala") This adds texture and nuttiness plus of course more B vitamins
  5. 3tsp salt ("sare")
  6. some extra flour and polenta ("malai") for dusting
  7. 1 beaten egg to brush the loaves with
  8. 1 tablespoon of wild garlic salt ("sare de leurda") to sprinkle on the bread (you can substitute poppy seeds or other seeds)
Gadgets and Gizmos
  1. Bowl and a wooden spoon that's it
Instructions
  1. This is a bread that you do not need to overknead
  2. Mix all the above ingredients together (except the egg and the garlic salt) well in a large bowl first using a strong metal or wooden spoon.
  3. Cover with one or two damp towels
  4. Leave to rise slowly in the fridge overnight
  5. To form the bread, divide into two (or four if you prefer smaller mini loaves) and shape into ciabatta shape loaf shapes or simple round loaves.
  6. Let the bread rise again and this is quite important: It needs to double in volume before you pop it in the oven so leave it somewhere nice and warm covered with damp tea towels. (do not let it rise in a warm place with eggwash on it)
  7. Just before you put the loaves in the oven, paint the loaves with egg and sprinkle over the garlic salt.
  8. The oven needs to be at your highest possible setting- 250C if you can get there. This bread will take approximately 15-20 minutes. When it is done it will sound hollow when you tap it. Smaller mini breads will take 12-18 minutes.
Notes
  1. This bread truly smells divine when it is cooking and it is almost impossible to resist devouring it hot. I recomend serving it warm with butter or a a selection of dips just to enjoy it. It also freezes brilliantly so after all your travails you can enjoy it again and again
i think therefore i jam http://ithinkthereforeijam.org/
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