Taking the Mellow Bakers Challenge in the mellowest possible way, I made the last bread of June in the first week of July… ;-) This was a slightly more complicated recipe, as it required roasted barley – not just the grain, mind you – but “malted barley“, not very easy to find, unless you have access to a beer brewery. Following the footsteps of other bakers, I decided to make my own, and it was a fun (and successful) project!  I highly recommend that you read Susan’s article about malt and its uses in bread,  she did a great job explaining it all.

For Hamelman’s Beer Bread, you need a poolish (made the day before), roasted barley, beer, flour and commercial yeast. The malted barley gives the bread a beautiful reddish tone, and the beer a flavor that is surprisingly delicate for such a hearty-looking bread. To allow me to bake it early in the morning, I retarded the dough overnight after the final proofing.

Comments: Making malted barley seems intimidating at first, but once again I asked the help of an expert, and brought Dan Lepard to the rescue. His book, The Handmade Loaf, has clear instructions on how to do it. Here is a quick summary of it…

THe process starts by soaking the grains in water, for 2 to 3 days, keeping them in a cool place..

Then, the grains are rinsed, spread over a damp paper, covered, and kept for 4 days in a cool place, until the sprouted portion is twice the size of the grain. Aren’t they cute? ;-)
(click to enlarge)

Finally, the sprouted barley is thoroughly dried (for 12 hours or so), and either roasted for a few minutes and ground (to make this bread), or dried at 50 C for several hours and ground into a powder (to make malt powder, and use in any bread that benefits from it).

Follow this link, so you can read about all my fellow bakers who stuck to the plan and had this bread made last month… ;-)

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