This is a recipe from the Hairy Bakers/Bikers. It’s meant to contain brown ale but we didn’t have any so instead I used an alcohol-free driving Cobra which was gathering dust in the fridge. Let’s be honest, it was never going to get drunk.
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 2 hours rising time
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Skill level: easy
Makes: 2 medium loaves
- strong white bread flour – 520g
- wholemeal flour – 320g
- sugar – 4 tsp
- cheddar cheese – grated – 200g
- parmesan cheese – grated – 75g
- brown ale (or alcohol-free Cobra), at room temperature – 450ml
- powdered milk – 50g
- dried yeast – 2 tsp
- salt – 1½ tsp
- mustard powder – 1½ tsp
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- fennel seeds – 2 tsp
- 1 free-range egg, white only, for glazing (optional)
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the brown ale and set aside for a few minutes until a froth has developed.
In a large bowl mix together the flours, cheeses, milk and mustard powders, eggs, salt and fennel seeds. Add the beer mixture and mix to a dough with your hands.
Place on a floured surface and knead for 20 minutes (yes, sorry, 20 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add warm water if the dough becomes too dry.
Divide in half and form 2 loaves. Place on an oiled baking tray and make diagonal slashes across the top.
Cover with lightly oiled cling film and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
Brush the loaves with the egg white and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
Cool on wire racks.
Verdict: A light yet substantial bread which as well as making superb sandwiches is also excellent toasted. If you are not fond of fennel, experiment with other flavourings.
Drink: If you used brown ale, finish it off. If you used alcohol-free Cobra, don’t.
Entertainment: A sneaky double viewing of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (midway through 3rd season) whilst Blogger-D was in the kitchen making some rather time-consuming hazelnut biscuits.