Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recipe: Beer Bread Sandwich Loaf

I like reality. It tastes like bread. – Jean Anouilh 

Mmmm. Homemade bread.
I have leftovers. I always have leftovers, but this time it’s different. They’re leftovers I want to use.

1.5 whole chicken breasts, to be exact. And I have a hankerin’ for a sandwich.

Carl Sagan said “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” Well if I wish to make a sandwich I had better bake some bread.

Sandwich bread can be pretty boring. That’s why there’s a derogatory phrase in English where we call something “white bread.”

But sandwich bread doesn’t have to be boring. But it DOES have to be evenly textured inside. Big, beautiful holes – an asset in any other bread – is not desirable here.

Funny thing is this should be right up my alley. I have no problem at all making even textured bread, even when I don’t want to!

But back to making white bread less boring…

The thing about it being boring is the bland taste. I know that all homemade bread has its own charm, but I wanted to ratchet it up a notch for this loaf. How to do it?

Bring the mixture barely together. Then let it rest.
Beer. Not beer inside the chef, but inside the bread. I substituted all the liquid in the loaf with strong ale, but left the yeast quantity the same.

The result is a loaf with beautiful even texture, lots of body and a wonderful yeasty smell. Plus a moist chewy interior and slightly crumbly crust.

Perfection. I may make all my white bread this way from now on!

The recipe for the chicken sandwich (which isn’t an ordinary chicken sandwich, of course) will follow in a later post.

Beer Bread Sandwich Loaf
Prep and Rise #1: 2-3 hours  |  Rise #2: 45 min  |  Bake: 30-40 min  |  One loaf
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup beer, room temperature
2 tbsp honey 
1 tsp salt 
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

The dough after kneading.
Combine all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of your mixer. Bring together with the dough hook until just mixed. Let rest 10 minutes.

After resting, turn the motor to medium and let the dough hook knead for 10 more minutes. The dough will be smooth and slightly sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Place in a warm spot and let rise until doubled – 2-3 hours.

Remove the dough, knead once or twice and place in a greased loaf pan. Let proof until doubled again,about 45 min to 1 hour. Slit the loaf with a razor blade down the middle on the long dimension.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and let bake 35-45 min until browned on top and the bottom sound hollow when tapped.

Let cool before slicing, if you can wait.

Beginning the second rise.

Second rise completed and slit down the length.

This is the texture – extremely even. Perfect for sandwiches!

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