Derek's Delicious Stout Loaf
The bread I've been baking lately is one I ran across on Ross/rossnroller's latest blog back in September. The bread, a Wholemeal and Stout loaf enriched with egg and butter is one that Derek/yozza put together using his own home brewed stout and demonstrated to his students during one of his sourdough bread classes at the college where he works.
When I saw the photos of Derek's loaf (above) that he'd baked off at home the next day I was sold. It looked so good to me I knew right away that I had to give it a try. Derek was kind enough to share his formula on Ross' thread and answered a few questions I had via PM as well. My thanks go out to Derek for his inspiration and good advice in the making of this fine bread.
The first attempt got off to a rocky start when I was scaling out what I thought was whole grain flour for the overnight soaking in stout. After I had the flour soaking and was putting the bag away I realized I'd used whole rye flour instead of whole grain wheat flour... yikes! That's what I get for starting a mix at the end of long day and for not accepting the fact I need to wear my glasses more often than I do. Fortunately I like rye breads, and other than the loaf not being what I'd intended, it turned out reasonably well. By the time I began the final mix 15 hours later, the levain I'd started the night before had over-ripened and I wound up having to add some commercial yeast to the mix in order to kick start it enough to get fermentation going.
This turned out to be a pretty tasty mistake, all things considered, and one I'd like to try again but next time with the intention of using rye flour.
The second attempt was better in terms of looks, but the flavour was lacking due to rushing the bulk fermentation. I needed a loaf for the next day and instead of giving it a long retarded BF, the dough was mixed quite warm with an increased leaven and overall hydration at 58% for a 2 hour BF at 78-80F with the final rise being approximately 3 hours. The loaf had terrific oven spring, producing quite a lofty, high profile bread, due in part to the lower than normal hydration. The soaker used for this mix was made with Cooper's bottle fermented Australian Stout and One Degree Organic Sprouted Whole Meal flour. I've wondered since if that may have had some impact on the overall leavening of the loaf, the soaker becoming a secondary levain of sorts. Overnight temperatures were in the low 70F range at that time, and I suppose it's possible but since I didn't do a float test on it I can't say with any degree of certainty.
The price I paid for using this abbreviated procedure of course was flavour. Not that it tasted bad, just rather ordinary. Considering the high quality ingredients that went into the mix it's a bit of a shame, but being that I pushed things along the way I did it didn't come as total surprise. In the end I was happy the ingredients didn't go to waste and that I had a loaf of bread to see me through the coming week.
For the third mix I allowed sufficient time to give the dough the long retarded fermentation that it needed to build flavour and stuck close to the Derek's original procedure but made a small addition to his formula by including 15-16% cracked wheat to the overall mix to give the loaf more body. The cracked wheat was added to the stout and soaked overnight along with the wholemeal flour. If there had been any fermentation going on in the soaker of the second mix I'm quite sure there was little, if any, this time around as overnight temperatures had cooled off considerably in the interval between mixes. Going by how long it took before the loaf could be baked off, I'd say the leaven did the job all on it's own this time. Hydration for this mix was increased to 70% and the leaven went back to 30% from the 40% of the previous loaf. Bulk fermentation was 3 hours with 3 stretch and folds at 45 minute intervals, then an undisturbed 45 minutes before rounding, resting, shaping and placing in the pan for the 24 hour retarded ferment. The final rise took over 5 hours in the B&T proofer at 78F before I thought it had a hope of doing anything worthwhile in the oven and even then it wasn't clear what I'd wind up with. When I checked the loaf after the first 10 minutes, removing the steam system at the same time, I could see it hadn't jumped as much the previous loaf, thank goodness, looking much more like the loaf that Derek had made, which was my goal from the beginning.
Total bake time was 40 minutes, initially at 485F for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes at 465F and the final 10 minutes at 440F, leaving the loaf in a dead oven with the door ajar for 20 minutes.
Third times the charm it seems as this turned out a very nice loaf, just rich enough from the butter and egg to give the crumb a soft and moist texture but not so much that the crumb is dense or cakey.
The sour level is in the medium range, appropriate for this type of bread I feel, with the flavour of the stout coming through slightly stronger, imparting it's malty characteristics to give the overall flavour some deep and delicious notes that make it hard not have just one more slice. For my tastes this is a bread meant for cheese and with that in mind and some leftover stout I decided to make a Welsh Rarebit to have it with.
Straight from the broiler and piping hot, this may be the ultimate way to enjoy the combination of stout, sharp cheddar and good homemade bread.