Walnut Stout Bread
This weekend's bake, per my wife's request, was a walnut stout bread. The recipe that I used (note that all measurements are volumes, not weights) can be found here: http://www.kitchenlink.com/mf/2/4133. We first saw it printed in the Kansas City Star some years ago; the link attributes it to the Houston Chronicle. It's probably one of those recipes that was reprinted widely, since it is so good. Oh, and don't miss the Cheddar-Ale spread recipe at the bottom of the page. It is wonderful with this bread!
There are a couple of insights that I can offer, having made this bread on several occasions. It is essentially a rye bread, which means that the crumb is very smooth and somewhat dense. The dough will be sticky as you handle it. The recipe suggests adding flour during kneading to control the stickiness but I elected to knead with one hand and clean the countertop (and my hand) with a plastic dough scraper. It helps to keep the finished bread from being too dry. The recipe merely says "rye flour". I don't know if it means white rye, medium rye, or whole rye. In my case, whole rye flour was on hand, so that is what I used and it turned out fine. The recipe also requires 1 Tablespoon of coriander, and that is not a misprint. Between the coriander and the anise seed, it is a very fragrant bread. As for the stout, I've used Guinness on previous occasions with good results. This time, I used Boulevard Brewery's Dry Stout (local to Kansas City) with equally delicious results. I think you could get away with using any dark beer or ale, whether stout, porter, bock or dunkel. The flavor may shift a bit, but it wouldn't upset the overall results. Obviously, the richer the flavor of the beer or ale, the richer the flavor of the bread. The walnuts are, to my tastes, essential for the bread. They contribute both flavor and a crunch that play off the other flavors and textures very nicely.
The recommended baking time is 35-45 minutes at 375F. I checked a loaf's temperature at the 40-minute mark and it was only about 180F, so I left it in for another 10 minutes. If it had been taken out at the recommended time, it would have been gummy. Since I only make this every two or three years, I haven't really experimented with different temperature/time combinations.
Here is a picture of the finished loaves: