NB: For this recipe you will need a food processor with a dough hook attachment. The dough starter needs to be prepared 12 hours in advance.
- Dough starter
- 5 g fresh yeast
- 135 ml/4 3/4fl oz cold water
- 100 g/3 1/2oz strong white bread flour, preferably organic
- 100 g/3 1/2oz rye flour
- 680 ml/1 pint 4 1/2fl oz tap water
- 940 g/2lb 1 1/4oz traditional white bread flour, preferably organic, plus extra for dusting
- 130 g/4 1/2oz dark rye flour
- 15 g/1/2oz fine sea salt
- 22 g/3/4oz fresh yeast
- Beer roll topping
- 10 g/1/2oz fresh yeast, crumbled
- 140 ml/5fl oz beer (ale)
- 110 g/4oz rye flour
Cooking time 30mins
For the dough starter, whisk the yeast into the water until dissolved.
Mix the white and dark rye flours in a separate bowl until well combined.
Pour the yeast mixture over the flours, whisking well to form a thick paste. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set aside to ferment for at least 6 hours and up to 18 hours at room temperature. You can use dried yeast but you will only need half the quantity. Yeast is dormant at 4C, active between 20-40C and destroyed at 45-50 C. Using a dough starter in bread making gives a greater complexity of flavour; as the yeast activates and feeds on the natural sugars present in the flour, over time it produces a distinctively tangy or sour taste.
For the dough, line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
Add the water to the fermented dough starter and mix well to combine.
Place the white and rye flours into a food processor, set with the dough hook. Add the salt to one side of the bowl of the food processor, then add the yeast to the other side, being careful not to let the salt and yeast touch at this stage as the salt will attack the yeast and damage its ability to ferment.
Add the starter dough mixture to the food processor and mix on a low speed for 5 minutes. (NB: This can be done by hand if you don't have a food processor with a dough hook attachment.)The slow mixing process will give the flour the opportunity to fully absorb the water.
Scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl of the food processor and from the dough hook, then continue to mix on a medium speed for a further 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. The faster speed will warm the gluten in the flour making the dough elastic and creating the right environment for the fermentation to happen.
Scrape the dough into a neat ball and cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside to prove at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has proved, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface using a scraper if necessary. Cut the dough into four equal pieces.
For a beer-topped roll, line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Divide each piece of dough into five smaller pieces, and roll each of these into a ball. Place each onto the prepared baking trays and cover loosely with cling film .
For the beer roll topping, whisk the yeast into the beer until dissolved. Pour the yeast mixture onto the rye flour and whisk to a thick paste. Brush each roll with the beer roll topping and dust with a little white flour. Set aside to prove for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas 9 or to its maximum setting (this is critical as the temperature will decrease significantly when you open the door) and place a baking tray in the middle of the oven and a roasting tin on the bottom.
Slide the rolls on to the hot baking tray in the middle of the oven and pour 50ml/2fl oz of water into the roasting tin on the bottom. This will generate steam within the oven creating a good crust on the bread.
Bake the beer rolls in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through. (The loaves are cooked through when they make a hollow sound when tapped on the undersides.) Remove from the oven and set aside to cool