Saturday, March 21, 2009

Irish in the Oven

This week in My Kitchen, My World, we are travelling back to Ireland in celebration of the recent St. Paddy's day. A great opportunity to try out this fabulous Guinness Bread that I found on Mary's site - One Perfect Bite.
This is a deep, dark, and rich loaf, full of delicious stout beer. A beer that I don't drink but love to have on hand for stews, batters and the like. For drinking I am a bit of a wimp and prefer lager. Sigh.
This also marks the one year anniversary of my father's death. He was no stranger to a good beer himself, as well as being an Irish-blooded travelling gypsy philosopher type. He would have loved this bread. And finished of the end of the can for me. Who am I kidding? The rest of the cans!
Wizened beyond his 70 years from the hot desert climes he loved so much, he looked like a cross between Obe Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Sounded like a cross between them too.
I don't have him to share the loaves with, so I ran one across the street to my neighbour, a true Irish elf himself. He may or may not think I am crazy now for showing up at his door with bread. Time will tell.
If you love strong flavours, this one is for you. Just remember to leave the Guinness out of the fridge overnight!

Rye Bread with Guinness Stout and Fennel Seeds - As found on One Perfect Bite, originally adapted from Group Recipes.
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
24-ounces stout beer (i.e. Guinness), room temperature
3 ounces warm water
2 cups rye flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached flour + 1/2 cup flour for kneading
4 teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Directions:
1) Combine beer and water in a large bowl. Add yeast and stir until completely dissolved.
2) Add rye flour and 3 cups of white flour; whisk until thick batter forms. Cover and let rest until mixture begins to bubble, about 2 to 4 hours.
3) Stir in reserved 2-1/2 cups flour, salt and fennel seeds. Turn batter onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead roughly. Dough will remain sticky and loose despite your best efforts. I've found it best to repeatedly fold and throw it onto the work surface. I use about 1/2 cup additional flour for kneading. At this point you want to incorporate as much air as possible in the dough. The mass will begin to resemble a dough as you knead, but it will be very, very loose.
4) Return dough to bowl, cover and rest for another 45 minutes or so.
5) Turn dough onto work surface and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
6) Lay dishtowels onto your work surface and lightly flour them. Re-shape dough balls into loaves and place on dishtowels to rise. I used Italian bread pans to hold my loaves because the dough was so loose I feared I'd have pita bread if it was not constrained. Let rise until double in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
7) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
8) Diagonally slash loaves with a razor blade.
9) Mist sides of oven with water from a spray bottle. (Avoid light bulb!)
10) Slide loaves or pans into oven. Reduce heat to 425 degrees F after 5 minutes of cooking. Bake for another 25 minutes or until bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yield: 3 loaves.
Hmmm, someone couldn't wait for a bite!
This bread is going Yeastspotting with Susan of Wild Yeast.