I made the most delicious loaf of beer bread using some of the tips that I gleaned from the book, so I thought I would share them here.
- The second rise is the most important. After you have risen the dough for the first time gently mix the dough (not a full-on knead) and then shape. If you knead it too hard the second time you will knock out some of the air that has developed in the dough.
- If you want a beautifully cooked loaf of bread then what you cook it in really does matter. I find that my non-stick breadmaker makes kind of average bread. That is because the tin doesn't really get hot, and a lot of steam is produced in a small crowded environment. The bread is often very soft. If you have proper metal tins, great. I don't so I used my Le Creuset 'dutch oven' to cook the bread. I put the pan and lid separately into the oven (i.e. the lid wasn't on the pot) and got them both really hot. After twenty minutes I put the dough into the pan and put the lid on top. After twenty minutes I took the lid off to get some great colour. About ten minutes after that I flipped over the loaf of bread so that the bottom could crisp up. It was my best loaf of bread ever.
- You cannot just substitute white and wholemeal grains directly in recipes. Wholegrain flours contain naturally present sugars so often an adjustment to the sugar in the recipe is required. The more white flour you use, the more sugar will be required.
- It is my experience that the best bread flavour (robust, earthy, nutty) come using at least a small amount of wholegrain flour. I used wholegrain spelt flour in the beer bread I made - delicious.
- I found a really interesting range of wheat flours at Commonsense Organics. I bought some NZ Purple Wheat flour as well as wholemeal spelt. I'm currently using it to make a sour dough starter. It looks slightly purple so I'm hopeful that a purple loaf of bread will be the result!