If you have not heard about this incredibly easy recipe for Artisan Bread, here it is. It is one of the most popular recipes that was EVER published by the New York Times, The No Knead Bread. Thank you, Jim Lahey, this bread has improved our lives! So easy, my kids can both make it and I have made it many times, with many variations trying to add whole grains and healthy things into it, sometimes with epic fails. This time I tried it using beer to replace the water.
Beers adds something extraordinary to bread. Using a local craft beer instead of the water and the addition of currants and pecans results in a completely delicious gift worthy loaf. We have also tried it with hazelnuts, dried cherries and dark chocolate with a dark beer and it is awesome*! (It went so fast I couldn’t take a picture of it.) Beer adds terrific flavour to breads and with so many different styles and flavours in beer, there is an endless variety of options to experiment with. A dark porter or stout beer will yield a darker bread with more pronounced flavours. The bread will have all the flavours in the beer but will be much less intense. As tempting as it will be to save the whole loaf for the adults, the alcohol from the beer burns off during the cooking so bread made with beer does not contain alcohol.
One thing that is tricky about making bread is it can be difficult to tell when it is done. It is not like other baked goods where a finger press, slight nudge or toothpick gives us the information we need. A fool proof way to measure for the perfect loaf is to measure the internal temperature. I have started using my kitchen thermometer to test bread and even other baked goods when I’m just not sure. It turns out that I was slightly under cooking bread which explains why is was sometimes doughy inside. Using an instant read thermometer, stick it inside the middle of the loaf. You are looking for 190 degrees for a basic bread and 200 degrees for a bread with butter, milk or eggs.
Artisan Bread with Craft Beer (studded with pecans and currants)
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/2 cup beer (I used a lager)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans
1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
Directions: Mix everything together ( I used a stand mixer with dough hook but you can easily do this with a bowl and spoon). Cover and let rest over night or at least 12 hours. Sprinkle parchment paper with flour, bran or cornmeal and turn bowl upside down so that the dough will drop onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle with flour and gently fold dough over a few times to form a ball. Cover and let rest another 1-2 hours. Heat oven with dutch oven inside to 450 degrees. When hot, put dough (still on parchment paper) inside dutch oven, cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 10 minutes or so until crust is golden brown. Test with thermometer to be sure the bread is cooked in the middle. Your house will smell amazing and it will look incredible but try your best to wait at least 10 minutes before cutting.
*use a porter or stout beer, add 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate, 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries, and 1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
Have you tried the No Knead Bread recipe and what are your variations?