Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beer Bread with Roasted Barley

This is another annoying recipe that requires an ingredient that is hard to locate, a problem that is becoming all to common with this challenge. First high-gluten flour, then high-extraction flour, and now, malted barley. (And one of next month's recipes calls for rye chops!) I really don't mind using unusual ingredients, but at times Hamelman doesn't provide an adequate description of said ingredients, guidance in finding the ingredients, or possible substitutions.

For my first pass through the recipe, I hadn't yet located malted barley so I substituted barley flour while I continued my search. This produce a nice, but unremarkable loaf. An okay loaf, but nothing memorable.

For the malted barley, the idea is to take hulled barley that can still be sprouted, sprout it, toast it briefly in the oven, and then grind it into a fairly fine meal to use in the bread. Eventually, I found barley that was suitable for sprouting although perhaps not completely hulled, and repeated the bread.

For comparison purposes, I actually made four half-loaves. I use the sprouted/toasted/ground barley per the original recipe, I use ground pearl barley, I used barley flour, and, as a lark, diastatic malt powder. These four loaves are shown in the picture. (Different slash patterns are used so I can distinguish the breads after baking.) Otherwise, I stuck pretty much to the recipe. For the record, I used Guinness as the beer.

Overall, all four breads were pleasant and enjoyable but, as before, unremarkable. The differences among the loaves were slight. The beer didn't really seem to add much to the bread. Perhaps, rather than using the watery Guinness, a stronger, more assertive beer would have been a better choice. Of the four loaves, my wife and I both preferred, surprisingly, the bread made with the diastatic malt powder. And we both ranked the sprouted barley last. It certainly wasn't worth the effort of tracking down the barley. We split on the other two loaves.

All-in-all this isn't a loaf that I'm inclined to go back to. On the other hand, I do have a lot of hulled barley, barley flour and the like.

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