Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Eagle's dark hearth bread

This is seriously good bread; put a plate of this, thickly buttered, in front of me and I'm a very happy bunny. The recipe comes from the now sadly defunct bakery that once ran from The Eagle pub in Brighton, my old local.

The pub itself continues but the bakery has gone the way of the dodo. I'm not sure that boozers and artisanal breads were ever going to be happy bedfellows. By the time I moved into the area the bakery was long gone, but luckily the excellent organic bakery at Infinity Foods more than made up for it. The breads at Infinity are integral to the character of the food shop, and you're enveloped in the smell of baking from the moment you enter. I remember my mum buying fruit malt loaf there when I was little and the sweet, spicy smell inside never fails to take me back...

Anyway, here's an adaptation of a golden oldie from the Eagle - a dark, intensely flavoured bread made with so many extra goodies that it virtually becomes a meal in itself. Enjoy!

Makes 1 loaf

450g strong plain flour
110ml warm water
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp dried instant yeast
40ml runny honey
90ml strong black coffee, room temperature
½ tbsp cocoa powder
40ml black treacle
60ml Guinness, room temperature

1) Mix half the warm water with treacle and yeast, and leave somewhere warm until the surface is foamy. Sieve the flour, cocoa and salt into a large bowl then add the yeast mixture, the remaining water, honey, Guinness and coffee and mix until smooth. Leave for 10 minutes.

2) Knead briskly for 10 minutes or until it feels silky smooth and bouncy, then pop into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm until doubled in size. I have an exceptionally cold kitchen, so I often put the bowl into a larger bowl of warm water to get things moving along. If you're lucky enough to have an airing cupboard, try there.

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute, then shape into a round and place on a well floured baking tray. Now leave somewhere warm to prove until doubled in size again. Bake at 375f/190c/gas mark 5 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350f/175c/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Check if the loaf is done by tapping the bottom - if it sounds hollow, its done. If not, pop it back in for another 5-10 minutes.

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