Ok, so you wake up in the morning with a screaming headache and your tongue stuck to the pillow. You crawl out of bed and on your way to the kitchen you pass the wreckage from the night before: beer bottles, coffee cups, bottle caps and magazines that litter your coffee table. You stumble into the kitchen and look for food. All you have is coffee and beer. You can’t even find your pants let alone breakfast. What’s a guy to do?
Make a loaf of bread, obviously. Well, thats the theory anyway. When I’m hungover all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV. If I do have any energy to get up and be productive it’s usually going to find something greasy to eat. Mmmm, White Castle….ahem.
Dr. Fiance and I are runners. More specifically, Dr. Fiance is a runner and I am a guy who runs because otherwise I would be a big tub o’ goo since I eat cookies for breakfast. Dr. Fiance gets up most mornings and heads out to run fifty or sixty miles with a group of other crazy people. Evidence they are crazy? They think that the best thing they could possibly do in the morning is to get right out of a warm bed at 5am and exercise. After their runs, they stop for a coffee and some chit-chat about 5ks, marathons and splits, then they get on with their day. Dr. Fiance brings her coffee back home with her, wakes me up, and then heads out to work, forgetting her coffee on our butcher block table about 90% of the time.
In addition to Dr. Fiance’s forgotten coffee yesterday morning I had a fridge full of a local IPA I’m not too fond of that we bought for a friend, so the time seemed right to try Alton Brown’s Morning After Bread from his excellent primer on baking technique I’m Just Here for More Food. In this little video about a different beer bread recipe Alton talks about which type of beer to use for which recipes, and lucky for me, he likes a dry hoppy IPA for bread! Perfect way to use up what’s already in my fridge!
It should be noted that here in the early days of Shoot to Cook I’m going to be pulling a lot of kitchen science from Alton – he does a very good job of explaining “if you do this, you will achieve that because of x,y and z” rather than just “do this to achieve that”. I learn a whole lot faster if I understand what the dealio is with things. Except for math. I will always suck at math. And I promise, I’ll be making something other than baked goods at some point.
Beer and Coffee Morning After Bread
1 Cup beer (I used an IPA)
1 C coffee (Leftover Starbucks I found forgotten on my counter)
1/4 Cup Water – It’s possible I forgot this step, shh don’t tell anyone
2 Cups of Wheat Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
2.5 cups bread flour
1 T kosher salt
Combine beer, coffee, and water. You want to end up with a warm temperature so it doesn’t kill off the yeast. In my case the coffee was warm and the beer was cold, so that may have slowed the rising process a bit. Mix the liquids, yeast, and whole wheat flour. Let it sit for a half hour, then add in the rest of the flour and the salt. Alton’s recipe says to use a mixer to mix and knead – I don’t have one yet, so I used good ole hand power. The dough seemed a bit dry (maybe because I forgot to add the extra water) but I added in a little extra beer while kneading. Yay beer!
So now it’s time to let the dough rise until doubled, then fold it down. Repeat the process, and then form into a longish loaf. It was at this stage that I noticed it seemed a bit dry, tough and heavy. I was hoping for some increase rising in the oven. Put the formed loaf on a greased pan and let rise another for another 30 minutes (which is called the bench proof). Bake at 400 for 205-30 minutes, then let cool on a rack before cutting.
Shoot to Cook After Action Report
As interesting as I found this recipe to be, the bread was seriously heavy and dense. Due to the density it didn’t bake entirely. The fact that there wasn’t enough moisture at the beginning probably also contributed to this. On the other hand, the flavor was pretty good: it had a beer aroma and aftertaste which was quite pleasant. I had some of the leftover bread for lunch today as toast which was really tasty with some horseradish cheese. I will likely make this recipe again to use up some of the extra IPA I have around, but I’ll have to make some tweaks (more moisture, regulate the temperature of the liquids a little better etc). And to be fair, I’m not exactly a master baker yet. I’m willing to bet that my technique needs some polish.
Just in time…yesterday afternoon I picked up a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Daywhich I started to read last night. Lots of interesting information there. I started my first batch of “five minute” bread this morning. A full report on that to come in the next few days.