Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beer-Yeast Bread

We have been making beer for awhile now. There is something just fantastic about arriving home and pouring yourself a cold pint of homemade beer--it's like, hooray for adulthood.
An attempted Brooklyn Lager clone fermenting in the basement. 
When you rack the beer into the secondary, there remains at the bottom on the carboy a thick, goopy layer of yeast--so I naturally have been using it to make bread! I've had some mixed results--the pretzels I made with hefeweizen yeast were excellent, but the rye stout bread was like a dark unchewable brick of Eastern block sadness.
So this latest batch was made with the yeasty sludge from our current attempt--a cold-fermented imitation of Brooklyn Lager (nostalgic taste of Adam's youth). The sludge had a lot of hops left in it, so I was curious about how that might taste in the finished bread. Also, this cold-fermenting yeast is slower than other types--would it need to rise for two days? I was prepared for a flop.
Well--this was my biggest beer-yeast success to date! I made rolls with it. The crust is crisp and thick, with a golden flake; the inside crumb is springy, soft, tender, and a bit chewy; the dough itself has an almost nutty flavor--not sour but more complex than other breads, a teeny bit caramel-y. Totally pleasant and lovely.
I plan to keep this yeast line alive for future bread endeavors.
Not entirely sure this is a copy-able recipe, seeing as you need this particular type of yeast. But if you're in Denver, come over and I'll give you some.
How to Make It Bread with Beer Yeast 
The day before you plan to bake, take the sludge out of the bottom of your latest beer. Put it in a big container and add a cup of water and a cup of flour. Mix with the sludge and leave overnight. This will make a sponge starter for the bread.
Take two cups of the sponge starter and put into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of sugar and leave alone for 20 minutes. This will wake the yeast up and get it super horny.
Add five cups of flour (I like white unbleached) and mix up. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook attachment. Test the dough--it should be pliable and elastic but not sticky. Mess with flour and moisture until you have the perfect consistency.
Then allow the dough to rise for about 5 hours.
Form into rolls or loaves or whatever you want and allow to rise for two more hours.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Dough before rising. 
Many hours later. 
Risen rolls.
All done. My house smells amazing.
Can't wait to have a sandwich on Lager bread alongside a cold glass of lager--hopefully the beer comes out as well as the bread did. 

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