Hamelman Beer Bread with Roasted Barley
This bread was begun with the highest hopes and a bubbly poolish...
The poolish had actually bubbled a little too long. It looked perfect around 15 or 16 hours, but I had other things on the go and left it for another two hours. Slight deflation. Couldn't be helped. The picture was taken right before mixing. What do you think?
Had all my ingredients measured the night before, ready to go. Because I couldn't find hulled malted barley kernels locally, only unmalted, I opted to use non-diastatic barley malt powder. I understand malting better now. It seems I could have produced the powder myself using the unmalted kernels. That's what malting is, I learned, thanks to Mini O and a bunch of reading. You sprout or germinate whole grain kernels (usually, but not only barley) under controlled conditions. Once malted, the grain is heated to dry and then ground into powder. Sometimes called crystals, flour or extract, just to confuse things further. :)
I chose a nut brown ale from a local micro-brewery. Bonus! The bottle held 650 ml, so there would be some left over to go with my supper of curried chicken.
Will make a long story short for now. Things looked promising every step of the way. Even had some fun experimenting with techniques for the final ferment because I don't own oval bannetons. I scooched one loaf up in a trench created with a piece of canvas and covered it with plastic. Also tried an idea in From Julia Child's Kitchen for suspending a long loaf in a canvas sling, weighted heavily, from the edge of a table. Both worked fine but bannetons are way easier. They're on my long wish list!
I loaded the bread in the oven. My dinner was ready. I'd already been sipping the ale, and it was utterly delicious! I'm usually more of a wine or single malt whiskey girl, but that ale made a convert of me. It also made me so impatient for the bread! I was beginning to see why Hamelman wrote in his recipe that this one would have a lively, robust flavour.
Here they are:
And here's the crumb:
And here's the part I've been sighing about since Thursday. Why I haven't really wanted to write this blog entry. The taste...I'm so sorry, Jeffrey...was disappointing. Insipid even.
Gasp! Even typing those words, let alone saying them aloud, feels sacrilegious to me. I've always found Hamelman's recipes completely reliable. Oh, the temperature might be a little hot for my oven. I also had a lot to learn about handling rye before I could produce something similar to the promised results in those breads. But taste? He's never failed me there.
And probably still hasn't. It might well have been a mistake on my part. For one thing, I ended up with about two ounces less than the total weight he indicates. I have a sneaking hunch I might have mismeasured the salt, using the 1 1/4 tsp amount from the next line in the text, instead of 1 T. But that wouldn't account for two whole ounces!
So I'll make it again, especially if I hear from someone at TFL that they had a good result with this recipe. It's basically a nice white bread with some whole wheat and malted barley thrown in. The poolish, the ale...altogether it should have been tasty, as advertised. We'll see.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Thanks for your interest.
Added by EDIT: Please be sure to read my post in the comment section below on the results of the second bake. I did change my story! This is a lovely bread, well worth your time and attention.