Alsatia is famous for its happy marriage between French and German cuisine, as shown in Choucroute, Zwiebelkuchen and Alsatian Apple Torte. It produces top Rieslings, but brews lots of beer, too.
It's also home of one of my favorite authors: Tomi Ungerer, known for his quirky, illustrated books for children and adults, whose heroes are no mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, but usually just the opposite - like the stubborn little tom cat in: "No Kiss for Mother".
And even in his wonderful illustrations for a book of German folk songs ("Das grosse Liederbuch") he always manages to smuggle one little nasty detail in his otherwise idyllic scenes and landscapes.
Like me, Tomi Ungerer loves cats and good food, and is no tee-totaller. And maybe Mother Paw even might have got a kiss for this bread (topped with a juicy mouse.)
Jacquy Pfeiffer, also from Alsatia, and one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs of America, published this recipe in The Art of French Pastry, a high-calorie cookbook that makes you gain weight by just looking at it - and sigh wistfully.
The potatoes add moisture to the loaf, and the beer crust, together with the "old" dough, gives it a unique taste - and an attractive tiger pattern.
Since the breads are quite small, I recommend baking a whole batch of them.
(4 small loaves)
200 g bread flour
4 g/1/2 tsp salt
0.8 g/1/4 tsp instant yeast
126 g/1/2 cup water
60 g instant potato flakes (or 130 g mashed, unsalted, cooked potatoes)
200 g water (to soak potato flakes, if using)
all pâte fermentée
250 g bread flour
170 g rye flour (whole or medium)
10 g salt
4 g/1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
240 g water
50 g rye flour
90 g beer
2 g salt
1 g/1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
rye flour, for dusting
*For this recipe I combined two slightly different formulas, one (not in great detail) from a magazine for professional bakers "Modern Baking", the other from Pfeiffer's book. A Fresh Loaf member, who had participated in one of Pfeiffer's baking class, gave me the description of how the dough consistency should be.
Stir together all ingredients for pâte fermentée and mix on low speed for 1 minute, adjusting flour or water, as needed, so that dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.
Knead on medium speed for 4 minutes, dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky, and register at 77-81ºF/25-27ºC.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1 1/2 times its original size.
Knead lightly to degas, cover and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days).
|Pâte fermentée means "old dough"|
DAY 2 :
Remove pâte fermentée from refrigerator 2 hours before using.
In a small bowl, mix potato flakes with water. Set aside.
Combine all dough ingredients (except potatoes) in mixer bowl. Knead on low speed for 3 minutes, add potatoes and knead for another 3-4 minutes (dough should be a bit sticky, if necessary, adjust by adding teaspoons of water). Set speed to medium-low and continue kneading for another for 2-3 minutes (dough should be still somewhat sticky).
|Time for the dough to rest|
Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, roll around to coat, cover, and let rise for about 1 1/2 hour, or until almost doubled. It should be very soft and still a bit sticky.
|Pre-shaped into taut balls|
Transfer dough to a floured work surface and divide into 4 pieces (àbout 315 g). Cup each dough piece with your hands, and, while pressing down on it, turn it around clockwise, until a taut ball is shaped.
|Not exactly an Alsatian beer - but good!|
Cover pre-shaped dough pieces and let them rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, combine ingredients for beer crunch in a small bowl.
|First fold top side to the middle...|
|....then 2 sides to make a triangle|
Fold each dough round from 3 sides to the middle to make a triangle. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Generously spread beer paste over loaves, also from the sides, then dust with rye flour. (Don't cover, or the foil will stick.)
|Brush triangles with a thick layer of beer paste|
Proof breads at room temperature for about 1 1/4 hours, or until they have almost doubled in size. The crust should show distinct cracks.
Preheat oven to 445ºF/230ºC, including baking stone and steam pan.
Bake for 10 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water, then rotate breads 180 degrees and remove steam pan. Continue baking for about 15 minutes more, until breads are dark golden brown, sound hollow when thumbed on the bottom, and register at least 200ºF.
Let cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour before cutting.
The beer bread freezes well. Wrap in foil and place in ZipLock bag in the freezer. Let thaw, then crisp for about 1 minute in preheated oven at 445ºF.
|My first trial at the Beer Bread - no tiger crust, yet|
Submitted to "Yeast Spotting"