From James Berry, head chef of The Stables. I don’t know what it is, but there is something deeply satisfying about making your own bread. It is one of my favourite daily jobs in the kitchen; one of those rare tasks that can be referred to as a labour of love. I generally start early in the morning and try to get my dough proving before the kitchen starts to bustle and hum with service and the arrival of my chefs. I view bread-making the way others view yoga and tai chi, as a form of meditation. Since I get so much joy and satisfaction from such a simple task, I thought it was something that I could share with you all. Enjoy this recipe:
Basic Beer Bread:
1pint of Beer
Approx 2 ½ lbs of good flour (strong white or wholemeal)
1 tbsp castor sugar
1/4 oz dry active yeast
Take your beer and gently warm it to about blood temperature (about 36-38 degrees), be sure not to make it to hot as this will kill the yeast (remember yeast is a living organism), once you have warmed your beer pour it into a large clean bowl, add your dried yeast to the beer along with your sugar, mix thoroughly until the yeast has dissolved.
Once the yeast has dissolved add about two pounds of your flour to the mix. Once combined knead your dough for a good ten to fifteen minutes, this activates the gluten contained in the flour and will give you a nice springy firm dough.
Now to prove, cover the bowl with cling film and place it in a warm spot away from draughts. Leave the bread to prove for about half an hour or until the mix has doubled in size. The Yeast works by feeding off the sugars and warmth in the beer and as it multiplies creates carbon dioxide which gets trapped in your dough and causes it to rise.
Once the mix has doubled in size you need to knock it back, simply do this by giving the mix a couple of punches to let the gasses escape. Now you need to knead the mix again (about ten to fifteen minutes). Since this is a beer bread your mix will appear quite moist once it has proved (this is because the yeast and the beer combined produce an alcoholic by product called Hooch) so whilst kneading continue to add the remaining flour until the dough is firm and springy again
Shape your dough into – well any shape you feel like- place on a floured tray and put into a warm spot to prove a second time. Once the loaf has doubled in size, place it in the oven at about 220c for about twenty five minutes. Keep an eye on your bread as all ovens are different. To check that your bread is ready knock on the top of it and if ready it should sound hollow.
All that’s left now is to enjoy your bread. Any way you eat it you will appreciate this home made loaf.