This bread recipe was recommended by my neighbor and I am so glad I tested it out. The bread is so simple and so flavorful that I think it will become a staple in our house. I was extremely impressed that three days after baking, it was still soft and delicious, who knows how it would have been on day four, it didn’t last that long.
The recipe calls for a “mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser” but there is no chance in h*ll that you will ever find Budweiser in my fridge, the only time I will drink that is in the sugar house. In fact, I don’t really care for any kind of mild or light beer. Having left college well behind (I don’t miss Keystone light, the choice of beer at my alma mater), I saw no reason to buy any when I only needed a little over a quarter cup and there was plenty of good beer in my fridge, so instead I used a nice red ale from a local micro brewery, Trout River Brewing Company Rainbow Red Ale. In the end I think this was a good choice, because the red ale seemed to give the bread a nice touch of sweetness and a whole lot of flavor.
My advice on choosing a beer for this recipe, is to go with what you like. You are only going to use a small amount, and therefore will end up with an open beer that is about three quarter full, so you might as well drink it. We don’t want to be wasteful now do we? In terms of the bread, I doubt you could go wrong with any lager. Personally, I would recommend something with a bit more flavor to it, because even though the amount used is small I think it adds something to the hearty earthy wheat flavor. I think an IPA could be nice, possibly adding a little hoppy kick, I thoroughly enjoyed the red ale and while I think a stout might be a little much, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it. Experiment with this, I know I will.
On this first attempt my loaf did turn out slightly browner than I would have liked, but this bread is was so flavorful and delicious, that I didn’t even notice. The recipe recommends that you use an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, but sadly I do not own one (someday…). While it says that a regular cast-iron Dutch oven will work, I think that the enameled one insulates the bread a bit more while it cooks so that it doesn’t get too brown on the bottom.Cooks Illustrated 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup whole wheat flour 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 Tablespoons honey 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water, room temperature 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons beer 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including yeast.
- Dissolve the honey into the water.
- Add the beer and vinegar to the water/honey mixture.
- Stir wet into dry, folding gently until a sticky ball forms, incorporating all the flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for 8 to 18 hours.
- Lay a large piece of parchment paper in a 10 inch skillet and spray with oil.
- Flip dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed 10 to 15 times, shaping into a ball.
- Place dough ball seam side down on the parchment in the center of the skillet.
- Spray the dough with oil and lay the plastic wrap loosely on top.
- Let rise at room temp until doubled, about 2 hours. (30 minutes before baking, place a 6 to 8 quart Dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees)
- Sprinkle the top of the risen loaf with flour, using a sharp knife, make a 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep cut along the top of the loaf (do this gently, try not to pull or tear the dough, you may want to do this by dragging the knife gently along the same line 4 or 5 times to active the correct depth of the slit).
- Place the Dutch oven on the stove top and remove the lid, gently lift the four corners of the parchment paper, and transfer the loaf from the skillet to the Dutch oven.
- Replace the cover on the Dutch oven, allowing excess parchment to hang out, and return the pot to the oven.
- Reduce the heat to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until deep brown. The loaf should sound hollow when flicked on top (an instant read thermometer inserted in the center should read 210 degrees).
- Lift the loaf out by the parchment and let cool on a wire rack.
Makes one large round loaf (about a 9 inch loaf).