Sunday, October 11, 2015

Almost No Knead Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Coconut Porter

This loaf was planned to accompany a pot of French onion soup for a Bread and Soup comfort food kind of meal, note the emphasis on the past tense. But the fresh sourdough boule, so warm and fragrant pulled straight from the oven, was totally irresistible. One little end slice cut off for a quick taste test turned into a series of "just one more bite" nibbles, and you can guess where that led. Oh yes, the intended bread and soup lunch turned into bread-with-butter snacks, then bread snacks with a dipping sauce of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and then RL tried a few bread slices with jam... and so it went, one slice after another. Forget the soup, we were full. No regrets; it was so delicious and onion soup will always taste better on the second day.

I had intended to follow the basic recipe for Sourdough No Knead Bread, until I found one lonely can of Coconut Porter hanging out in the back of the refrigerator. How long had it been there? Quick flashback to a can of Pumpkin Porter and and the 2014 pita bread recipe. "Hmmmm" I thought, "what would the Beeroness do with Coconut Porter?" 

Right, she would sip it and/or cook with it, with great enthusiasm. So I did both. It turns out that I appreciated Maui Brewing Company's can artwork more than I relished the taste of their beer. Coconut? what coconut? Coconut was a total stealth note, so well-hidden that I couldn't discern any coconut flavor at all, not even a hint. That's not a bad thing in a glass of beer, in my opinion, but I had hoped for something faintly tropical. Coconut flavor was also absent in the bread, but this sourdough walnut loaf was damned tasty comfort food without it. And that's a good thing!

Sourdough No Knead Coconut Porter Bread with Walnuts
adapted from several versions of the Lahey original (Cook's Illustrated, NYTimes, Seattle Times, etc.)

3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup well-fed & proofed sourdough starter 
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) coconut porter (beer)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and rough chopped

Whisk flour and salt in large non-reactive bowl. Add the starter, water and beer. Use a rubber spatula or dough scraper to fold the mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight, or for 12 to 18 hours.

Place a 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with cooking spray (PAM, etc.). Set aside.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; add the walnuts and fold or knead until the nuts are evenly distributed. Shape into a ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer the dough, seam-side down, to the parchment-lined skillet and lightly spray the surface of the dough with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size. (It will not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2-3 hours in a warm kitchen.)
30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to the next-to-the-lowest position, place 4 to 6-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven with its lid on the rack, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Lightly flour top of dough; use a sharp knife to make one or two 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slits along the top of dough. Carefully remove the heated pot and lid from oven. Pick up the dough by lifting the parchment paper overhang and place it into the pot (let any excess parchment hang outside the pot over edge). Cover the pot and place in the oven. 
Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the loaf is deep brown in color and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 210 degrees F, about 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove the loaf from pot; transfer to a wire baking rack, remove the parchment and cool to room temperature before slicing.

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