Really good bread often takes two days. This isn’t because it’s complex, but because it takes time to develop complex flavors.
DAY ONE – Soaker
2 oz rolled oats 3 oz multigrain cereal mix 1 oz wheat bran 4 oz Bucket 13th Original Maple Stout
DAY TWO – Dough
3 cups (13.5 oz) unbleached all purpose or bread flour 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz) brown sugar 1.5 teaspoons (.38 oz) salt 1 tablespoon (.33 oz) instant yeast 1.5 tablespoons (1 oz) honey or barley syrup 2 tablespoons (.5 oz) dry buttermilk powder 3/4 cups (6 oz) Bucket 13th Original Maple Stout (room temp)
So begin the day or evening before you plan to bake the bread by making the soaker. The oats can be typical rolled oats. I like to toast mine for a few minutes in the oven, but its optional. The cereal mix can be any hot cereal mix that’s just cracked grains, not the instant/microwave kind because they contain added sugar and other stuff we don’t want here. I use a nine grain cereal mix from Honeyville Farms. You could also use a combination of coarse corn meal, quinoa or millet. Toss them all together in a plastic container with a lid. Add the beer, shake it up and let it “soak” on the counter over night. This soaker technique, as Professor Reinhart
* says, is “to activate enzymes and break out the natural sugars”. Something any self respecting beer aficionado would certainly like the sound of, right?
I have even refrigerated this soaker, after the overnight at room temp, for up to a week, with no ill effects. This formula will yield about 12 oz of multigrain soaker. You only need 6oz for each batch of bread. My assumption is that you will so like this bread that you want to make another batch very soon.
On your bake day, combine the flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk powder and yeast in the bowl of your mixer or, if you are going to do this the hard way, in your mixing bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together to distribute the yeast, salt and sugar. Since I subtituted beer for the buttermilk in the original, I used dry buttermilk powder to get keep the buttermilk as a dough conditioner and taste note. It’s easy to find in most markets in the baking section.
Then add 6oz of the soaker, beer, milk and honey or barley syrup. In your electric mixer, use the paddle to combine the ingredients into a ball. Add a few drops of beer if any of the flour remains separate. Then switch to the dough hook and knead for 8-10 minutes, by hand about 12 minutes.
If needed, add more flour about a teaspoon at a time. I have a small flour shaker that allows me to adjust my dough very gradually. The dough should be “soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky”, according to Professor R.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and spray or coat the dough with a bit more oil. My secret weapon for all my baking adventures is a spray can of food release.
You beer guys and gals will like this part. The first fermentation or proof will take about 90 minutes depending on your room temp. But you want the dough to double in size. Frankly I have had this take anywhere from 60 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. But my kitchen got so cold this winter, I was proofing in front of my wood stove in the living room. So learn what doubling in size looks like and check the dough at 30 minute intervals until it gets there.
I have formed this dough many ways over time. It makes wonderful free standing, hearth baked loaves; but I’m not going there for this post. You’ll have about 30-32 oz of dough, so you can make 1, 2 pound loaf, 2, 1 pound loaves, or even 4 half pound mini loaves. Lately, I’ve been using these cute little buckets! Each one takes about 12 oz of dough for a perfect “Bucket” loaf. I make a double batch of dough, about 60oz and divide it into 5 buckets.
Dump the dough from the bowl onto the counter. Use a pastry scraper to divide the dough. Shape it for your loaf or other pans. If you’re not sure, you should probably spray the pans. I have some with a corrugated finish that release well without any release spray. Or you can always line the pans with parchment; this is what I do for my mini buckets.
Now you are ready for the second fermentation. My mini loaves and buckets take as little as 30 minutes to rise a bit about the rim of their respective pans. Full size bread pans may take up to 90 minutes to double in size a second time.
During this second fermentation or proof, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Rotate the pans(s) and bake for another 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of your loaves. For those who like to be correct every time, the internal temp should register 185 to 190 F in the center.
Turn the loaves out and cool on a rack. Cool completely, like 2-3 hours. No, really. I can’t stress this enough. You will ruin your bread if you cut into it before it is completely cooled. It’s not done baking when you take it from the oven. It continues to cook while it cools. I know, I know. It will smell irresistible when it comes out of the oven and who doesn’t love warm bread. LET IT COOL. Warm it up again if you must have it warm or better yet toast it! This bread will make the best toast you’ve ever had. My absolute favorite is to make grilled cheese with it and pair it with, what else, a growler of Bucket Beer.
*This formula is liberally adapted from J&W’s own Peter Reinhart’s Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, from his bread bible The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Professor R. is my bread god. I have to give loads of credit to him, not just for the basis of this formula, but for a lot of what I know about making and baking bread.