Here are a few of the recipes I developed for “Baking With the St. Paul Bread Club.” Enjoy!
Summit Beer Brown-again Bread
Beer adds a subtle tenderness and flavor to breads. St. Paul's Summit Brewery makes a fine Great Northern Porter, and its deep brown color made me think of other brown ingredients such as browned butter, barley malt syrup, and coffee. For texture I added some millet, an ancient seed that's gaining popularity as source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. Millet has been around since the Stone Age, cultivated from China to Africa to Europe. Of course, the truth is that many of the world's grains have been around that long, which then makes eating bread practically instinctive --- something we are born to do. Makes 2 loaves.
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick), browned
12 ounces Summit Great Northern Porter, or similar dark beer
1 scant teaspoon instant coffee granules
¼ cup barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup millet seed, toasted
In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat, watching carefully as it turns to a deep chestnut brown, but no darker. This only takes a minute. Pour into a small bowl to stop the cooking. Then in the same pan, without wiping it clean, toast millet over low heat until you hear a few popping sounds. Scrape into a small bowl, and set aside.
In the saucepan gently heat beer to lukewarm. Stir in instant coffee and barley malt syrup.
In a large bowl whisk together yeast, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, and 3 cups bread flour. Add beer mixture and browned butter, and stir until dough comes together and pulls away from sides of bowl, adding more flour if needed. Add salt and millet, and mix well.
Turn out onto a well-floured surface, and let sit for 15 minutes under an inverted bowl. This resting period gives the flour time to fully absorb the liquid, which helps the dough firm up, making it easier to knead. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half. Shape into a round boule or a loaf shape, and place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with flour. Cover with a cloth, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
With a box cutter or sharp knife, make several slashes across tops of loaves. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom or an instant-read thermometer reads 200 F. Cool on a rack.
Bittersweet Chocolate-Ginger Bread
I love a not-too-sweet chocolate bread, and it's my daughter's favorite -- as long as it's plain chocolate. I, however, persist in wanting to add various embellishments, such as dried cherries or cut-up apricots, both of which veer toward the sweet. But the addition of candied ginger proved the solution to jazzing up the bread, while tempering the sweet with some heat.
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
4 ½ cups bread flour
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened high-quality dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped in ½-inch pieces
½ cup candied ginger
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Dissolve yeast in warm water, and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir remaining 1 1/4 cups water into dissolved yeast, and then stir into flour mixture. Stir in chocolate and ginger. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half. Form each half into desired shape, round boules or oval loaves, and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with a cloth, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Brush loaves with egg wash, and then make a few decorative slashes across tops. Bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 F, and bake for 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool on wire racks.