Friday, November 2, 2012

Whole Grain Beer Bread

Bread making has always been something I tried to avoid since the creation of this blog. Perhaps it has to do with the notion that there is this goal to make gluten free bread not taste like gluten free bread. 


The breads I do make are few and far between, if only that making loaves of bread somehow gives me this obligation to eat slices of bread every day, and I don’t like being committed to eating the same thing day after day. I’ll even cut a muffin recipe in half or less because of this. I’m just not a bread person.

Scratch that. I’m not a bread eating person. I love the baking part. There’s something about churning the dough/batter with a wooden spoon, watching singular ingredients mesh and collide. You pour it into the pan of your choice and place it in the hot oven, and almost immediately the aromas of baking fill your entire homes. Then comes time to take it out, and the batter has become this completely new creation. Still warm, you slice it or pick one up from its individual crevice, and take a bite.
 
It’s warm going all the way down.

As the days are getting shorter and the air is crisper than it was before the recent weather brought the cold from the Atlantic, words like “warm” and “freshly baked” will be essential to those preparing for winter. Whether it is to be part of dinner to absorb the last remnants of stews or to simply have when traveling out of state on a ten-hour drive, bread can be a beautiful thing indeed.

 My favorite to this day is still the grain-free flatbread recipe I made for the GFRR earlier this year, though it was a hybrid “quick bread” due to my off and on weird relationship with baker’s yeast (though oddly enough, bread making with homemade sourdough doesn’t affect me). I did want to make “yeasty” bread, one that I could put into a loaf pan and eat in thick slices without it falling apart in my hand.   

I also want to clarify that, when I say bread making, I do not mean quick bread or flat bread or even cornbread. Those things I’m all into creating a multitude of recipes. I’m talking about yeasty breads, the ones with only three essential ingredients (flour, water, and yeast/leavening agents), the ones you put into loaf pans to huff and fluff and puff and slice for sandwiches or French toast.


I’ve learned a lot about gluten free bread making through trial and error, such as:
  1. Grinding your own grains with a coffee grinder gives texture and binding.
  2. Even if there isn’t any yeast to the recipe, soak the flour overnight with the liquid you are using. Add the remaining ingredients to the dough right before the baking process.
  3. Combine the two, and you get an amazing bread recipe.

Add beer to it, and you get an AMAZing bread recipe. Gluten free beer, that is.

New Grist is my “drinking beer” of choice (this coming from a person who rarely drinks and drinks little), perhaps because Bard’s bitter hops flavor keeps me from drinking it straight from the bottle. Bard’s is solely a cooking beer for me, perfect for bratwurst in a cast iron pan, equally so in caramelizing onions and cabbage. So when this urge to make beer bread was almost too much to handle, I saw bottles of Bard’s in the pantry and thought “why not?”

Beer. It’s for more than just drinking.

Whole Grain Beer Bread (inspired by these two recipes)

200 g Short grain sweet brown rice
200 g Red quinoa
200 g Corn flour (coarsely ground though not polenta grade and not special arepa flour)
120 CGF rolled oats
2 bottles Bard’s Sorghum Beer
60 g Honey (or maple syrup for a herbivore version)
1 tbsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Unrefined apple cider vinegar

Measure out the grains (save the corn flour as it is already ground) and use the coffee grinder to make as fine a flour for each grain as possible.*
Pour the flour into a large bowl and thoroughly mix with the beer (it will be a sticky dough).
Add the honey and let it sit overnight.
Combine the remaining ingredients and preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Pour the dough in a large loaf pan** lined with parchment paper, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes, and then use the parchment paper to remove the loaf from the pan to place on a cooling rack (after peeling off the parchment paper) to cool for an addition five or ten.
Slice thinly or thickly to your preference, and serve warm.***

Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves.


*This step will be done in small increments. Some grains will be coarser than others, though it does give wonderful texture.
**Due to a miscalculation of measuring out the flour, I ended up doubling the recipe by accident. This easily makes two smallish loaves, and can most certainly be halved to suit your needs.
***This bread does well in the refrigerator. It remains moist and holds well.

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