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Dark and dignified: a tale of using up leftovers.

For reasons that are too tedious to go into, there was a recent experimentation with beer as a hair conditioner Chez Spoonfully (results: not unpleasant, not smelly, not sticky, did not attract ants, but not spectacular either).  For the purposes of said experimentation, half a stubby of Guinness Stout was directed to the follicles, leaving half a stubby in the fridge wondering what to do with itself. Obviously, time to make bread. (I’ve heard rumours that you can drink it too, but this is my kitchen and I wanted to make bread, so hush yo mouth.)

Crafty product placement

I love using up leftovers; it makes me feel all frugal and clever. Wasting food makes baby pandas cry, so make the most of your leftovers, people. Plus, creativity benefits from limits: leftovers provide limits. I’m not great at decision-making. A broad-spectrum question like “what will I cook?” spends me spiralling into a vortex of indecision and cost-benefit analyses until I have to lay on the kitchen floor and drink detergent. But ask me “What will you cook using ONLY these four things?” or “What will you cook that makes use of [this leftover thing]?” and I am a gold-plated, steam-powered, decision-making FIEND, striking awe into the hearts and wee into the pants of young and old alike.  I bet I’d kick arse on Iron Chef.

Back to the bread: Guinness Stout has warm, savoury-caramel-type flavours, so I wanted a medium-to-dark bread, with some extra spices. I wanted a loaf with oomphalaboomph. Dark, spicy, savoury. I’ve also had a hankering to try a bread dough with seeds in it, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try that out.When I make a sandwich loaf, I usually shoot for 70% hydration (meaning I work out 70% of the weight of the flour, and that’s how much water to add), and that’s usually pretty sexy, so I thought I’d run with that as a guideline. If I had my genius pants on, I would have weighed how much Guinness I had, and worked out how much flour I needed from that, but I didn’t, so feh. Here’s the recipe, made up as I went along.

Stout, Seed and Spice  Bread
(Makes one quite small loaf.)
Stuff what goes into it
– 1 cup light rye flour
– 1 cup wholemeal flour
– 1½ tsp salt
– 1 tsp yeast
– 1 tab olive oil
– ground cardamom, nutmeg and allspice: a generous shake/sprinkle of each
– 50g toasted seeds: I used a mix of pepitas and sunflower seeds
– Guinness stout — how much will depend on how much your flours weigh, but I used about half a 375mL bottle
– honey and untoasted sesame seeds for glazing/sprinkling

How I did it
First up, I toasted the seeds in a frypan. It’s hot today and I didn’t want to have the oven on longer than really necessary, so frypan ahoy. When they were lightly browned, I left them to cool and attended to the rest of the mix. Mixed the flours (weigh them before you add anything else!), salt, olive oil, spices and yeast together, then added the seeds last. My flours weighed in at 278g, so I used 195g of Guinness.

Good head on that bread.

Kneaded the dough until the glutens began to develop and the dough reached the hallowed windowpane stage. This dough took a little while to get together, but persevere!

Proofing: Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes and did the first fold (fold into thirds one way, rotate 90° and fold into thirds again, then flip it over so the seam is on the bottom); let it rise for another 45 minutes or so, until doubled in size, then shaped for the final loaf-shaped rise. I base my shaping technique on Richard Bertinet’s method because I looooove him. Basically, fold the dough into thirds again, then rotate 90° and fold in half, then rotate again and start rolling up the dough like a tight, fat grub. Gave it another 20 minutes to rise, while the oven heated up and it doubled in size.

There isn't much to do while the bread rises.

Brush with warm honey and sprinkle with untoasted sesame seeds, then bake at about 200°C for 30 minutes or until done. It’s done when it’s dark and crusty and makes a hollow thunk when you tap it.

DOMINANT.

BAM. Dark and sexy bread.

Dark, savoury victory.

The flavour is strongly Guinness-y, which sort of surprised me. When I’ve used, for example, wine in breadmaking, the flavour disappears. This one has strong, savoury stout flavours, and the honey on the crust is subtle but noticeable. The spices are completely eclipsed by the Guinness flavour, but that’s fine. The texture is soft and springy (plus toasted seeds) and overall, this is one tastypants bread.

Obviously.

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