Thursday, 24 October 2013

Guinness Brown Bread

You have got to try making this bread. There is very little to it, other than weighing and measuring out the ingredients and popping it in the oven to bake.

The bread is slightly sweet because of the sugar and syrups that are used, but this is countered by the nuttiness of the wholemeal flour and also the bitter edge that the walnuts and Guinness contribute.

Given my great love for butter, it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I recommend having a liberally buttered slice (or two) whilst it is still warm from the oven. Delicious! Well… it is important to check that it tastes OK!
The bread stays moist for two or three days and is lovely toasted. It is particularly nice thinly sliced when cold and topped with some Irish smoked salmon, with a squeeze of lemon juice, a small spoonful of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of some finely chopped chives.
 
Like traditional brown soda bread, this bread uses bicarbonate of soda as the leavening agent. However, there is no buttermilk and the liquid that is used is Guinness. Like a lot of beers and ales, Guinness has many uses in cooking and baking. I use it in my Christmas puddings and also do a beef stew where the main ingredient in the sauce is Guinness.

Arthur Guinness started brewing ales in 1759 at the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. Guinness is a stout – a type of dark beer made from water,  roasted barley and malt extract, hops and brewer's yeast.  The roasted barley gives Guinness its characteristic dark colour and bitter taste. Guinness is also colloquially known as “the black stuff” and a “pint of plain”. Interestingly, although Guinness appears to be black, it is in fact a very dark shade of red.

Other stouts can be used in this recipe but personally I like the “tang” that the Guinness gives to the finished bread.
 

Ingredients:

315 g stoneground, wholemeal flour
150 g plain flour
30g caster sugar
1 level tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
60g porridge oats
375ml milk
60g roughly chopped walnuts
55g golden syrup
110g black treacle
35g melted butter
100ml Guinness
 

Method:

1.                  Pre-heat oven to 140C/Fan 130C/Gas 1.
2.                  Sieve the plain flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the wholemeal flour,  sugar, salt, oats and walnuts. Mix well with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute the ingredients.
3.                  Form a well in the centre and add the milk, golden syrup, black treacle melted butter and Guinness.
4.                  Mix well together, making sure that there are no pockets of dry flour. The mixture will be quite wet and a porridge like consistency.
5.                  Grease a large 2lb loaf tin and lightly flour. This is to ensure that the bread does not stick. You can also baseline it with a little greaseproof paper.
6.                  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes and then increase the temperature to 180C/Fan 170C/Gas 4 and cook for a further 25 minutes.
7.                  To test whether the bread is cooked, remove it from the tin and tap it. It should sound “hollow”.
8.                  When cooked, remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf.
 

The Workman’s Friend
When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -
A pint of plain is your only man.
 
When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt -
A pint of plain is your only man.
 
When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,
A pint of plain is your only man.
 
When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare -
A pint of plain is your only man.
 
In time of trouble and lousy strife,
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life -
A pint of plain is your only man.
 
Flann O'Brien (Brian O’Nolan)