The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A beer barm wholegrain batard

EdTheEngineer's picture

A beer barm wholegrain batard

Firstly, I have a new song to kneed along to. The lyrics are relevant - I can only assume the idea for the video was conceived under the influence of something stronger than fermentation fumes.

The rhythm is slightly faster than my usual kneading rate, but in the same way top athletes often run to music that has a slightly faster beat than they find comfortable to improve stamina, my quest to be a finely honed baking machine will not succeed without a little pain and sacrifice. 

Anyway, I wanted to make a bread for the table to go with a crunchy salad with a fairly weapon's grade french dressing and some cheeses. I made a 'bram' as described in Dan Lepard's The Fresh Loaf. This was done by taking 250g of strong bottle-conditioned ale up to 70 degrees C (I presume to boil off the alcohol) and then 50g of flour was whisked in. When cool, I added a tiny bit of pre-ferment from my sourdough starter (which is not quite ready at five days old but I couldn't resist). I left this mixture for 4 hours by which time it had doubled in volume.


 - 500g whole grain flour

 - 12g salt

 - 250ml water

 - 150g of the bram

 - A tiny pinch of fresh yeast (maybe half a gram) just because my starter is a little green still.

Mix and knead (to the anthem above) and then 20 hours in the fridge. Shaped into a batard and left to warm and prove for 3 hours, then into the oven. I didn't get a photo of it whole (mouths to feed) but here's a crumb shot:


It's a shame one can't upload flavours to the internet but it's got a really moist, fluffy crumb that has a lovely malty, nutty flavour. Great for soaking up the salad dressing and you can taste it along side fairly powerful cheeses. I'll make it again for sure. Pleasingly light for a 100% whole grain - I tried to be gentle during the numerous stretch and folds and shaping, and the long slow fermentation helped a lot. My sourdough starter will be one week old tomorrow so this week I'll do my first sourdough. I seem to have regressed to eight-year-old boy levels of excitement. I shall also try and find a slightly more high quality camera (with a flash!) as these grainy, blurry iphone shots are letting the side down.


danlepard's picture

...really good! Lovely slashing and crust.

EdTheEngineer's picture

Thank you Dan!

Daisy_A's picture

Hi Ed,

That looks great! Really lovely open moist crumb, particularly for whole grain, and a lovely crust.

Good that you are gearing up to use your sourdough! You may have thought of this already but it's useful to do a test run of its raising power by putting a small amount of leaven with water and flour (either 100% hydration or hydration of the formula you will you use), in a small jar and mark it off to test how long it takes to double.

It is really exciting the first time you use sourdough to bake.

Wishing you continued happy baking! Daisy_A

EdTheEngineer's picture

Thank you for the tip Daisy! I shall use this in the future just to keep an eye on the state of the starter. For the sourdough I just made (and have just posted) I was quite untechnical and hoped for the best - it does seem pretty lively at the moment and has been at room temperature for the last week. I will get a new kilner and transfer it to the fridge tomorrow.


Daisy_A's picture

You may not need to do the levain test if your starter is as lively as it seems to be, just mark it off on its jar and see how long it takes to double at different temperatures. The levain test can be handy with new formulae, however. Like I will be doing a small test dough for enriched dough as I have not done this before.

I might hold off putting it in the fridge, though. Perhaps do a test with a little bit in a smaller jar? Just saying this because my starter is good and strong while on the bench but really gets knocked back in the fridge. Depends on the yeast colony. Some yeasts come out of the fridge storming but younger starters can get knocked back. A lot of bakers advise keeping a new starter on the bench for a few weeks and some starters benefit from being on the bench all the time. However these are often only fed very small amounts of flour and water.

Well with great looking, great tasting sourdough and accolades from Dan Lepard I imagine there's no going back now!

Best wishes, Daisy_A

Mebake's picture

Wonderful Looking Loaf, Ed!