I made this a couple days ago on a day when it had snowed....it seemed fitting to make bread on such a wintery day. I LOVE this bread. The texture is amazing...chewy interior with dough wholes, magnificent crisp crust, and wonderful flavor due to the beer and nuttiness of the sesame seeds. Even though I sort of burned the bottom by not setting my kitchen timer appropriately (as can be seen in the pictures), the results of this recipe were great. Again, I took the long way by starting the dough a day or two in advance and just letting it sit....and sit....and sit....no mixing again if you use a mixer. I don't know if I ever want to buy bread again....now if I could only just plan better ahead....
I can't believe what a genius this woman is--Nancy Baggett. Her website is http://www.kitchenlane.com/.
CRUSTY SEEDED PALE ALE POT BOULE
(I'm referring to it as 'European Style Sesame Wheat Beer Bread')
adapted from Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed (I used 2 cups all purpose flour, and 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour PLUS ~1 tsp. vital wheat gluten to help with rise & texture since using the wheat flour)
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Scant 2 tsp. plain table salt
3/4 tsp. rapid rising, bread machine or “instant,” yeast
1 12-ounce bottle well-chilled pale ale or beer (IPAs are great for bread)
2/3 cup ice cold water, plus more if needed
Oil for coating dough top (I used an olive oil spray)
1/4 cup sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or a blend of seeds for garnish
First rise: In a large bowl thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Vigorously stir in the ale and ice water, scraping down bowl sides completely and mixing until the bubbling subsides and the dough is thoroughly blended. If it is too dry to mix together, gradually stir in just enough more ice water to blend the ingredients; don’t over-moisten as the dough should be stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir dough. Turn it out into a well-oiled 3-4 quart bowl. Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, refrigerate the dough for up to 10 hours; this is optional. Let rise at cool room temperature (about 70 degrees F) 12-18 hours; if convenient, vigorously stir once during the rise.
Second rise: Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center all the way around until mostly deflated; don’t stir. Brush and smooth the dough surface with oil. Re-cover the bowl with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap. Let rise using any of these methods: for a 1 1/2- to 21/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 45-minute to 2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from the deflated size, removing the plastic if the dough nears it.
Baking Preliminaries: 20 minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees F. Heat a 4-quart (or similar) heavy metal pot or Dutch oven or a deep 4-quart heavy, oven-proof saucepan in the oven until sizzling hot (check with a few drops of water), then remove it, using heavy mitts. Taking care not to deflate the dough, loosen it from the bowl sides with an oiled rubber spatula and gently invert it into the pot. Don’t worry if it’s lopsided and ragged-looking; it will even out during baking. Very generously spritz or brush the top with water, then sprinkle over the seeds. Immediately top with the lid. Shake the pot back and forth to center the dough.
Baking: Reduce the heat to 425 F. Bake on the lower rack for 55 minutes. Remove the lid. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the top is well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until the center registers 208 to 210 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Then bake for 5 minutes longer to ensure the center is baked through. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the loaf to the rack. Cool thoroughly. If you are unsure if the bread is cooked, tap it with a wooden spoon and if it sounds hollow, the bread should be done!
Makes 1 large loaf, 12 to 14 portions or slices.