Guinness Yeast Bread Recipe

March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day, which to be honest isn’t observed very seriously in this neck of the woods. However, since I do have some Irish blood in me, I thought it might be nice to cook up a dinner that reflects (some of) my roots. Irish stew sounded great, since it’s more or less my default stew anyway. To go along with dinner, I wanted to make some Guinness bread. I searched my recipe books and online to find a recipe, and what I found was leavened with baking soda. Although I know that this is traditional, I’m not a big fan of the flavour of baking soda, so I turned my hand to creating my own, yeast-leavened recipe.

This is a very dark bread, more akin to what Maritimers call brown bread (coloured by molasses) than what is called brown bread on the Prairies (whole wheat bread). The Guinness adds a natural yeasty flavour and a rich colour. The recipe includes oatmeal, so these loaves are very dense and filling. This bread is delicious served with cheese, sausages, sliced lunch meats, and hearty stews.

Guinness Yeast Bread
Yields 2 loaves

In a large bowl, mix together:
1 cup (125g) large-flake oatmeal
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
Cover and leave to soak for 4 hours in the fridge.
Add to the bowl:
one 500mL can of Guinness beer, warmed to between 120ºF to 130ºF (49ºC to 54ºC)
2 Tbsp cooking molasses
In a second bowl, stir together:
4.5 cups (600g) all purpose whole wheat flour
10g quick-rise instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir together until well combined.
Gradually incorporate:
4 1/2 cups (500g) bread flour

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 8 minutes. When kneaded, the dough should be smooth and elastic, but not sticky. If dough is sticky, add bread flour 1 Tbsp at a time until stickiness abates.

Oil a large mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel. Place the bowl in a warm, dry area with no drafts. Allow the dough to rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. Grease two 9.5″x5.5″ loaf tins. Divide the dough into two equal-sized portions. Cover the pans with a clean, damp tea towel and allow to rise again until double, about 1 hour.

Lightly spritz the loaves with:
water
Dust the loaves with:
1 Tbsp large-flake oatmeal

Preheat oven to 450ºF (232ºC). Bake loaves for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 350ºF (177ºC) and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes more. Check to see if the bread is done by removing a loaf from the pan and tapping it on the bottom. When cooked through, it should make a hollow sound. Remove both loaves from the pans immediately and place them on a wire cooling rack.

Guinness yeast bread can be eaten immediately, but it keeps well for up to a week if wrapped in a clean plastic bag. Make sure they are wrapped up only after totally cool, or they will go soggy.

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