Makes 2 medium sized loaves.
Portuguese Beer Bread
- 2 cups of lukewarm Porter or other dark beer that you like
- 1/2 ounce or two packages active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons organic molasses or Steen’s dark ribbon cane syrup if you can find it
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour- I use King Arthur Organic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
- 4 cups AP flour, plus more for kneading board
Warm the beer to lukewarm (feels neither cold nor hot to your finger- just slightly warm) and add the molasses or cane syrup and half the yeast. Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes) and then sprinkle remainder of the yeast over. You should see a big bloom of yeast happen at that point.
Place into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or if you don’t have a mixer you can beat with a wooden spoon) and add the whole wheat flour and the olive oil. Mix thoroughly and then add the salt in and the AP flour by cupfuls just until a stiff dough forms. It should be elastic which means it should pull back into place when you stretch it. Don’t expect to be able to do a “window pane” test as there is too high a percentage of whole wheat to white in this recipe. It will be slightly shaggy like this:
Remove the dough to a kneading surface sprinkled with another 1/2 cup of flour. Knead well for around five minutes until it becomes smooth and satiny more like this:
Clean the mixing bowl just so there are no dry bits of dough remaining and coat lightly with more olive oil. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn it around in there to coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put a clean dish towel over it and leave it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch it down and let rise again, covered the same way.
When doubled again, remove it to a slightly floured surface and divide the dough into 6 pieces without deflating it entirely. In other words be somewhat gentle. Roll each piece of the dough gently into a long rope of about 15 inches. Braid three together and then coil the braid into a round, turning under and pinching the ends together. Repeat with the other three. This will make two loaves.
Place them on a large baking sheet (or two if you don’t have a full sized sheet) and cover loosely with plastic wrap then top with the dish towel. Let rise until doubled again, about an half hour to an hour. Preheat your oven during this time so it is fully hot to 475F. Place an empty shallow metal baking pan on the bottom of your oven to preheat with the oven. Place some water into a spray bottle or a small bowl with a pastry brush. Remove the plastic wrap and mist the loaves right before you place the sheets with them into the oven. Throw 4-5 ice cubes into the preheated empty baking pan to create steam and close the oven door quickly. Mist the loaves again after 5 minutes and again at 10 and again at 15 minutes. Then leave to bake for another 20 minutes or until baked through and hollow sounding when thumped on the bottom. They will be a lovely deep golden brown. Let cool on a baking rack but this bread tastes great warm or toasted.
Enjoy warm with some lovely homemade clam chowder or toast to make a yummy chicken salad sandwich with these.