Last spring Breadsong posted about Alsatian Beer Bread, a formula developed by Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, published in "Modern Baking", a professional bakers' website http://modern-baking.com/bread_pastry/mb_imp_16940/. I liked the looks of her buns, and was intrigued by the beer crunch crust (if it's crunchy AND made with beer, it must be good!) so I copied the recipe from "Modern Baking" to my ever growing to-do list.
Alsatia is famous for its happy marriage between French and German cuisine, as shown in Zwiebelkuchen - Onion Tarte (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19698/time-onion-tarte-zeit-fuer-zwiebelkuchen), and Elsässer Apfeltorte - Alsatian Apple Torte.
It's also home of one of my favorite authors, Tomi Ungerer, known for his quirky, illustrated books for children and adults, whose heroes are no mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, but usually just the opposite - like the stubborn cat boy in: "No Kiss for Mother". And even in his wonderful illustrations for a book of German folk songs ("Das grosse Liederbuch") he always manages to smuggle one little nasty detail in his otherwise idyllic scenes and landscapes.
Like me, Tomi Ungerer loves cats and good food, and is no tee-totaller. And as an Alsatian, he must love this bread, too.
PAIN À LA BIÈRE - ALSATIAN BEER BREAD (3 loaves)
95 g all-purpose flour
95 g bread flour
3 g salt
1 g instant yeast (1/4 tsp.)
119 g water
28 g potato flakes
98 g water, (to soak potato flakes)
all pate fermentee
250 g bread flour
125 g rye flour (whole or medium)
9 g salt
4 g instant yeast
220 g water
BEER CRUNCH (enough for 6 breads)
50 g rye flour
90 g beer
2 g salt
1 g instant yeast
rye flour , for dustin
1. Prepare pâte fermentée. Let ferment at least 3 hours at room temperature, stretch and fold, then refrigerate.
DAY 2 :
2. Remove pâte fermentée from refrigerator 2 hours before using.
In a small bowl, mix potato flakes with water.
3. Combine all dry dough ingredients with pâte fermentée. Add cautiously 220 g water (not all might be needed). Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, add potato flakes and knead for another 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and continue kneading another for 2-3 minutes.
4. Let rise for 1 hour. Divide dough into 3 pieces (350 g), pre-shape into rounds, let rest for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, combine ingredients for beer crunch in small bowl.
5. Fold 3 sides of rounds into center to make triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Spread beer crunch over loaves, then dust with rye flour.
6. Preheat oven to 470 F/245 C. Let breads proof for 1 hour at 81 F/27 C. (If rye flour is absorbed, dust again before baking).
7. Bake for 20 minutes, (no steam,) rotate, and continue baking for another 20 minutes.
Comments: The original recipe lists only an unspecified pre-ferment. I used a pâte fermentée, but I'm sure a levain would work as well.
It also has 240 g water for the final dough, but cautions that might be too much. It was! The dough looked at first drier than it really was, and I had to adjust with more flour to keep it from being wet like Pain à l'Ancienne dough, and totally unshapable. Therefore I suggest using 220 g water.
The original formula's baking temperature (470 F) and time (40 minutes) reflects conditions in a commercial oven, after 20 minutes baking time the breads were already getting rather dark, and after 25 minutes the internal temperature had already reached 208 F, so I took them out. Thinking of David Snyder's San Joaquin Sourdough, I would next time bake the breads at 460 F, for about 27 - 29 minutes, plus leaving them longer in the switched-off oven to prevent the crust from softening.
All in all, a really nice bread, with a hearty note from the rye, a great crust, and an attractive look. I will add it to my repertoire.
Updated 2/11/12 to include some information Kim gave me (who had made this bread at a baking class with Chef Pierre Zimmermann).