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Snowmageddon 2010 (Beer Bread)

February 11, 2010

Some people suffered during the storm having to suffice on canned or boxed food or leftovers or somethin’. Not here, no sir. ‘The Uncommon Woman’ and I packed it in with great food knowing good and well we were in for it. We ate well… Several homemade pizzas, homemade soups, charcuterie, etc., etc. It was OK (well… to us) that our local grocers ran out of meat and veggies because we were prepared…

But there was one that stood out of course, the Irish Brown Loaf. Again, Jim Lahey taught me this one and I have to share because it’s perfect for these snowy winter days… (BUY HIS BOOK, IT’S AMAZING!!) And it’s really just an alteration of this recipe, but brought to the next level.

Why is it Irish? Well, I think Lahey calls it such because he uses Guinness, but I decided to go with the Peak Organic’s Nut Brown Ale instead. It was incredible, smelling just like the beer, but the raisins gave it a nice tart/sweetness to balance the yeasty beer flavors. Incredible. I highly recommend.

Irish No-Knead Brown Loaf

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.


* One medium mixing bowl
* 6-8 qt. pot (Pyrex glass, Lodge cast iron, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
* Wooden spoon or spatula (optional)
* Plastic wrap
* Cotton dish towels (not terrycloth), 2 or 3


*2 1/4 c. Bread Flour (300 grams)
*3/4 c. Whole Wheat Flour (100 grams)
*1 t. Kosher Salt (6 grams)
*1 T. Wheat Bran (5 grams)
*1/4 t. Instant Dry Yeast (1 gram)
*1 c. Peak Organic’s Nut Brown Ale (175 grams)
(or any Porter/Stout you love)
*1 c. Buttermilk (175 grams)
*1 1/4 c. mixed raisins (150 grams)
*additional wheat bran for dusting

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt, wheat bran, and raisins. Add the beer and buttermilk, and stir until blended; dough will be quite sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. If your place is chilly leave it for up to 24 hours. Be patient.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles, and it went from to a liquidy look. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. This loaf is quite wet so you may need more than usual. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth, leaves fuzzy pills in the dough) with wheat bran; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more bran. Fold the towel over the dough and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (I use either my Lodge cast iron, or my ceramic-covered cast iron pictured) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Be careful putting it in ’cause the pot is HOT.

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes max, until loaf is beautifully browned. Carefully pull it out with a wooden spoon and a towel, and leave it on a rack to cool for almost an hour. You’ll hear the dough “sing” as the crust shrinks.

Dig into it after it’s cool to the touch. The inside will be nice and warm and smell amazing. Let me know if you try it. Good luck, it’s really amazing and provides great breakfast bread for several days… Especially when you’re snowed in this weekend while the mess melts.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 8:02 pm

    That looks amazing. I need to conquer bread. Sorry to miss you and Eli at the last happy hour. Hope to see you at the next one.

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