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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This is my second submission to Yeastspotting

The recipe for this traditional wheat bread from England comes from Dan Lepard’s book  “The Handmade Loaf”, that I mentioned before. I’ve made quite a few  breads  from it, and at first this one seemed a little too involved,  because it required not only a levain (sourdough starter), but also a barm .  But, I was inspired to try it after reading a wonderful post about it.

Lepard  came up with a nice strategy to duplicate the barm at home by taking  a bottle-conditioned beer, and adding to it a small amount of your own  levain.  It’s a simple bread once  the barm is ready and bubbly…

To make the barm….

125g Chimay beer (or other beer containing live yeast)
25g bread flour
2 tsp white levain (commercial or made from scratch)

Heat the beer to 160F, remove from the heat and quickly add the flour. Transfer to a bowl and allow it to cool to 68F, then add your white levain. Leave it at room temperature overnight or until it is very bubbly (my barm fermented for 30 hours).

Waiting for it to cool to 68F….

To make the bread dough…


75g barm
125g water at room temperature
250g bread flour
3/4 tsp fine sea salt

Mix the barm in a large bowl with the water to completely dissolve it, then add the flour and salt. Mix it all with your hands;  it will be pretty shaggy and you will doubt that it will ever become smooth…. don’t worry, just let the dough sit there for 10 minutes, covered.

Now follow this timeline, kneading for 10 to 15 seconds (yes, seconds) at each timepoint:

10 minutes / 20 minutes / 30 minutes / 1 hour / 2 hours /3 hours / 5 hours

at the 30 minute timepoint the dough will already be quite smooth…

After 5 hours, knead it briefly again, allow the dough to relax for 10-20 minutes, and  shape it into a  “boule” (see one method here).  Gently transfer it to your vessel of choice for the final rise (about 4 hours) before baking. I used a banetton lined with a fine cloth, sprinkled with cornmeal.

The bread will rise to 1.5X  its initial volume; when you press it gently with a finger, it should feel airy and light. I baked mine in a clay pot at 430F for 30 minutes covered, and for 15 additional minutes with the lid off.


This bread is a winner in every way:  flavor, crust and crumb texture, and looks. The beer gives it a subtle sourness completely different from a regular sourdough, made with levain only. It is a perfect match for a ham sandwich, or to go along a hearty soup or salad.  I kept thinking about split pea soup while munching on the bread. I’ll definitely make it again, with different beers and flour mixtures, as advised in Lepard’s book.

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