The beer adds a deep rustic flavour to the bread as well as contributing to a wonderfully crunchy crust. At the restaurant we first make a pre-ferment using fermented peach juice. It may not sound too appealing but this helps deliver a brilliant texture to the bread and a complex character similar to a that of a sourdough; it really is worth taking the extra time and effort. However, if you feel the need for speed just leave out the pre-ferment from the recipe and follow the recipe as normal.
Tip: We always use fresh yeast for our bread at the restaurants. Don’t panic! Find your nearest baker and they will be happy to sell you some. It shouldn’t cost you more than a pound, and you can always pick up an eclair for the walk home. Yes walk!
For the pre-ferment
280g strong white bread flour
170g fermented peach juice (you will need 1 small tin of peaches in syrup)
15g fresh yeast
For the bread
200g malthouse flour
300g strong white bread flour
300ml doom bar beer or similar ale
20g fresh yeast
First make the fermented peach juice.
Empty the tin of peaches in to a food processor and blitz to a smooth juice. Pour the juice in to a plastic container at least three times the volume of the juice and cover with a tightly sealed lid. Leave the container somewhere safe at room temperature for 2 days. After 2 days check the juice has fermented. It should have started fizzing and smelling of alcohol (think peach schnapps!).
To make the pre-ferment
Combine the 90g of the fermented juice with the flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. With the dough hook attachment mix the ingredients for 2 minutes until bound together, then set the mixer to high for 5 minutes. A loose dough should now be formed. Place the dough in to a container at least three times its size and cover with a tightly sealed lid or cling film. Place this in the fridge for at least 12 hours before using it for your bread. The ferment will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days so you can always make it well in advance.
To make the bread
Pre heat your oven to its highest setting (230ᵒC – 250ᵒC)
Add all of the ingredients except the salt to a mixing bowl. With the dough hook attachment mix the ingredients for 2 minutes until bound together, then set the mixer to high for 5 minutes. A firm ball of dough should now be formed. Place the dough in to a bowl lightly dusted with flour and cover tightly with cling film. Leave the the dough to rest in a warm place with no drafts for 40 minutes or until doubled in size. While waiting for the bread to rest lightly oil two bread tins around 20cm x 10cm, and dust lightly with flour, tapping out any excess.
Once the dough has doubled in size, place on a lightly floured work surface and divide in to two balls. Gently flatten out each ball until 4cm thick then fold the left and right edges in to the middle and push down firmly and repeat with the top and bottom edges. Fold the dough in half and roll to form the shape of the loaf. Place in to the prepared bread tins with the smooth side on top.
Cover the tins with a damp tea towel or j-cloth and leave to prove for 40-60 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size. Do not disturb the dough during this time. If the cloth becomes dry, spray with some water to dampen. Once doubled in size remove the cloth from the bread, spraying with water if it sticks to the dough. Lightly flour the surface of each loaf. They are now ready to bake. Make sure the oven is as hot as possible, and just before you put the bread in spray inside the oven a few times with water (this will help create steam in the oven which will help form a lovely crust) and immediately place the tins inside, closing the door gently.
Bake for 5 minutes at full temperature, then reduce to 220ᵒC and bake for a further 30 – 40 minutes until the bread is a dark golden brown. To help get a really crispy crust spray inside the oven again 10 minutes before you remove the bread closing the door gently. Remove the loafs from the oven and the tins, and allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour.
Fetch the bread board and knife – It’s time to impress your guests!