There's something very satisfying about making your own bread, especially the smells that come wafting out of your kitchen while it's baking! I wanted to start with a relatively easy recipe that I could flavour with a new chermoula spice mix I'd discovered in a spice appreciation class (see here for more on this). So I cast my mind back to food technology in high school when we'd made beer bread (I know, beer in school? Surely that's not allowed now!). Now, I'm no lover of beer, or any alcohol really, but when it comes to cooking and you're left with just the flavours, it seems to work so well! Not to mention, the yeast in the beer helps this bread to rise beautifully.
|I served my bread with chermoula-rubbed lamb and onion|
skewers, grilled vegetables (capsicum, eggplant, zucchini,
mushrooms and spinach) and tzatziki and hummus on
the side- delicious!
Chermoula is a North African spice blend made of cumin, paprika, onion, turmeric, cayenne, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and coriander leaves. It goes really well with grilled meats and vegetables and gives a spicy Moroccan flavour. If you don't have access to chermoula, any other herb or spice mix will do, or the bread can be just as good without any other flavour additions (as it lets the beer shine through).
3 ¼ C plain wholemeal flour
330mL bottle of beer (dark ale recommended), at room temperature
1 tsp dry instant yeast
1-2 tsp salt
Optional: 1.5 Tbsp chermoula or other herb or spice mix
1.Combine flour, yeast, salt and chermoula (if using) in a large bowl. Run beer bottle under a tap of running hot water for a few minutes to warm. Add to bowl and stir gently to combine.
2. Knead dough on a floured surface and return to bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for at least 1 hour.
3. Punch down mixture (press with your fist a couple of times) to get rid of any large air bubbles. Again, cover and let rise for at least 2 hours or refrigerated overnight.
4. Form dough into a loaf and place on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle the top with plain flour and slash with a knife (forming 1 vertical line or 3 angled lines). Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 230°C.
5. Put 8-10 ice cubes in a tray and place at the bottom of the oven (this will humidify the oven allowing a nice crunchy crust to form on the bread). Put bread tray on the middle rung of the oven and bake for 20-35mins or until the bread has risen and the crust is nicely browned.
6. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes ~15 small slices.