Barm Bread

by Susanne

This post is long overdue, as I actually baked this bread back in early October. Work has kept me busier than expected this fall, but I hope to get back to more regular baking with the Mellow Bakers group soon.

I was intrigued by the Barm Bread recipe and my significant other, M., was more than happy to research appropriate, bottle-conditioned ales for use in the barm used in this loaf. In fact, when he talked to the beer and wine manager at our local shop, asking for a bottle-conditioned brew, the fellow immediately smiled and asked if he was making bread. I’m glad to hear there’s a good crowd of other folks doing the same in the neighborhood.

I set to work on a Friday evening, heating the ale and beating in the flour, letting the temperature drop (which took a good bit longer than expected, give yourself plenty of time for this stage of the recipe) and mixing in the leaven.

The next stage also took longer than I expected… indeed, days longer. This stage was that of waiting for the barm to start fermenting. The book’s recipe simply instructs to leave the barm overnight, after which it should be ready. Mine took closer to three days: I mixed the barm on a Saturday night and had to wait until the following Tuesday morning to use it. Fortunately, I was working at home that day and could add it into the mix of other tasks I had at hand.

Results? This bread is well worth the effort–indeed, it’s among my favorites of the loaves I’ve baked from Lepard’s book so far. M remarked approvingly upon his first taste of this loaf, quite a fan of its flavor. The ale makes a major contribution, of course, and yet it’s impressive to see how flavorful an otherwise simple loaf can be. In addition to the ale barm, this bread is simply water, white flour, and a bit of sea salt.

Pictures of the final result below.

Loaf:

And crumb, somewhat sloppily cut:

Coming up soon here at the blog: more on flat-breads and their accompaniments, another recent project awaiting a blog post.

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