Monday, 30 April 2012


Its done nothing but rain today and I have got soaked twice. The first time was when I went for a tentative jog, splashing through the muddy puddles across the back field, before shuffling through Eckington, past the swimming pool and circling back home. 3 1/4 miles, half my usual distance but I did not want to put too much pressure on my knee. It twinged a little but not in a bad way, more in response to some of the rehab exercises I have been doing daily to strengthen the knee. My calf was tight because I'm still not running freely but my breathing was light and there is a perverse delight in running in torrential rain as once you are soaked... you're soaked. A shower revitalised me and then it was off to get some food shopping in. Drenched again.

I made another loaf today. Bread and beer, two things I love. I am a  member of both CAMRA and the Real Bread Campaign. This is my first attempt to combine the two. I would usually prefer to make a sponge the night before but even so, I chose the sponge method making it this morning and choosing to let it ferment for 6 hours before baking in the evening. I had read a flavour combination in a second-hand book I bought recently by Beatrice Ojakangus that involved a dark beer, thyme and Dijon mustard. The bread include rye flour but  thought I would use my remaining malthouse flour. The method is based on the River Cottage Everyday recipe.

I put 325ml of Tavern Porter in a bowl. I added 10g fresh yeast which I first creamed with a little sugar. I added 250g malthouse flour and mixed it into a thick batter. It smells lovely. The porter is a bottle conditioned beer i.e. it is a living product. The label says it has "full roasted flavours with a hint of smoky liquorice."

I leave it for 6 hours and it is bubbling nicely and then add another 250g malthouse flour and 8g of salt, together with 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard  and a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. I bring it together into a sticky dough  then leave it 15 minutes.

You can then complete the loaf in your favourite fashion. I kneaded for 10 minutes, left it for 90 minutes and then knocked it back and shaped it in a loaf tin, letting it rise for 45 minutes before baking it at 220C for 10 mins and a further 35 mins at 200C.

The result was a tasty loaf that made great sandwiches. I think I would use less thyme next time and I would like to try a sourdough with this beer to get a better understanding on how it impacts on the flavour. There's always next weekend...


  1. I've just bought a bottle of "live" beer from a brewery about a mile from my house for bread baking. I was planning on using the barm method in handmade loaf, but given a ready supply, I might give this loaf a go, it looks lovely!

    Leavened Heaven: My Search for Sarnie Shangri-La

  2. Hi Will, if you do, watch that you don't over power it with the thyme - that said, it made a lovely sandwich with blacksticks blue cheese, rocket and the sweetness of a caramelised onion chutney.

    Be interested to hear how you get on. i plan to try it with a sourdough recipe containing some spelt which I have tried before and see the difference the beer makes.