What came first? Bread or beer?
This is a question that may never be answered, but one thing we do know is that beer and bread are as natural food mates as coffee and dessert!
This is an intuitive recipe as these two yeasted fares share a common beginning, dating back to the first human chef. There is archaeological evidence that beer may have even been brewed as early as 7000 BC. But, that is a post for another day.
This recipe incorporates three essential staples : chocolate, beer, and wheat. (There is no actual chocolate in the recipe, but just a hint of its flavour.) Craft beer may often contain dormant yeast, and so provides additional leavening to this dough. We have chosen to make our bread with a chocolate ale, which, in addition to giving it an extra lift, imparts a deep, complex flavour to the tastebuds. Once you have tried this recipe, you’ll want to explore using other types of beer – and what you don’t use, you can drink with your bread!
Chocolate Ale Wheat Bread:
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Chocolate Ale
1 1/4 cup water (+ a little more, if needed)
1/2 cup soft butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup wheat flour
3/4 cup wheat flakes
3 cups all purpose flour (+ a little more, if needed)
1 tablespoon salt
1. Starter: Combine ingredients together in the mixer bowl, cover with towel for thirty -forty minutes. The starter will form a sticky pre-dough.
2. Add to starter: additional water, ale, vegetable oil, flour, wheat flakes and salt. Mix together using a spatula, then hook up bowl to the machine. The dough will be very wet at this time. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes, then add the soft butter. If it is too wet, add a little flour. Continue mixing until all incorporated. If the dough still appears too wet for the mixer, add a little more flour, and continue mixing until you see a very sticky dough that lifts occasionally away from the bowl. Do not add any more flour at this point. If at any point, you’ve added too much flour, you can add a little more water to make it sticky again. What you don’t want is a tough dough.
3. Continue kneading using the machine for about thirty to forty minutes. When the dough pulls away when pinched, it is ready. The surface should have smoother appearance.
4. Add a teaspoon of oil and using the spatula, work to form the dough into a ball, rolling it in the oil.
5. Cover with a thick towel and set aside for about two to three hours, until the dough doubles.
6. When risen, transfer the dough onto a counter. With a small amount of flour, knead the dough for a few minutes, then divide into two or three balls. Place on a lightly floured surface, cover again with the towel, and prove for another thirty minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 450F. Pour hot water into a small tin container, and set at the bottom of your oven.
8. After the second proof, transfer the dough onto a lightly floured, parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle flour on top of each ball of dough. Make two or three slashes across the tops, then spray with water.
9. Place in oven, and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until tops are darker brown. The bread is done when the bottoms are hollow sounding when tapped.