Black treacle and Guinness bread

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A simple and full-flavoured bread that is perfect with some salted butter, perhaps with seafood (it goes particularly well with crab) or as part of a Ploughman’s platter. 

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These flavours are quite commonplace in flavoured soda bread, but while I adore soda bread, I wanted a yeasted experience here.

I decided to make them as mini loaves, using one of my favourite mini loaf tins, although I have made this before as large loaves.

I adore the black treacle in the bread, which gives a deep sweetness to proceeedings.

This bread is not overly Guinnessy, which I find can be a touch over-powering in a bread, but you can definitely taste its rich flavour in the bread. If you want the Guinness to be more prominent you can of course increase the Guinness content and adjust the water accordingly.

Using a pre-ferment/poolish

As I often do when I make bread, I make up a pre-ferment to mix into the main dough. This adds an outstanding extra layer of flavour and an improved texture to the bread – but it is the flavour that is the real benefit: I have done so many blind taste tests on people with my breads, letting them taste the bread with a pre-ferment and without: each time, the bread with the pre-ferment wins hands down.

The pre-ferment is simply equal weights of flour and water, with the merest pinch of yeast. It all gets mixed together, covered and left at room temperature at least overnight until it has fermented. The time it takes to read this paragraph is longer than to mix up the pre-ferment!

For this bread, I used a mixture of wholewheat flour and spelt flour in the poolish, but white bread flour or any mixture works well – as indeed it does in the main dough.

Recipe: black treacle & Guinness bread – makes 2 large loaves or about 20 mini loaves

For the pre-ferment:

  • 100g flour
  • 100ml
  • pinch instant yeast

Main dough

  • 450g flour (strong white or a mixture of preferred flours)
  • 6g instant yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 70g oats
  • 3 tablespoons black treacle
  • 150ml Guinness
  • 100ml-150ml cold water

To finish

  • beaten eggs
  • a few tablespoons of oats

(1) Make the pre-ferment the day or so before you want the bread: mix the flour and yeast in a small bowl and add the water. Stir until incorporated, cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight or for up to a few days.

(2) For the main dough, mix the flour, yeast, salt and oats together in a large bowl. Add the Guinness, the black treacle and most of the water and mix to give a soft but not sticky dough – add more water if you need it to ensure the mixture is well combined.

(3) Knead for 15-20 minutes until the dough is elastic. Or pop into the food mixer with the dough hook attachment.

(4) Pop it back into the bowl, cover it with clingfilm and leave to prove until about doubled in size. I often place it in the fridge for an even slower prove, which also enhances the flavour.

(5) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and split into two pieces if you want to make larger loaves or divide to fit small tins.

(6) Pop inside a large plastic bag or bin liner and leave to prove at room temperature for an hour or so, or until the dough has risen just above the tins.

(7) Preheat the oven to 200C(fan). Brush the tops the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle over some oats. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown and shiny.  Remove from the tins and leave to cool.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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