In recent weeks, I’ve made forays into two yeasty areas in which I dabbled briefly a long time ago, and which I now want to develop much further: beer brewing and bread baking.
Partly it’s a financial thing. I resent being charged over $20 for a six pack of beer stubbies, and a good loaf of bread is nudging $5. That really adds up. Partly it’s a case of having the pizza oven cranking regularly, and wanting to extend oven fired goodies beyond pizza and roasted veggies. And partly it’s to satisfy the desire to make more basic and high quality foods with my own hands.
more basic human needs than bread and beer?
My approach towards both is essentially the same:
- get quick runs on the board using partially prepared “kits”, and then
- gradually work backwards towards first principles
With the beer, I initially brewed a good quality extract beer, based on the Little Creatures Pale Ale. We’re just enjoying the first batch now, and boy, it’s surprisingly good. Even Nadja (who rarely drinks beer, and even then, only “girl friendly” wheat beers) and my mother-in-law (a virtual teetotaler) like this beer. I’m staggered, and I’m already brewing my second beer batch: a Hoegaarden style wheat beer with infusions of orange peel and coriander seed. It’s bubbling away in our laundry now and it smells delicious. My third batch will be a rich stout based on Southwark Old Stout, to see me through the winter months.
My plan is to work towards “all grain” brewing, whereby I’ll crush malted grains, steep them in hot water to remove the sugars, then boil the liquid (“wort”) with various hops and infusions to achieve the beer styles I’m after, and then doing the usual fermentation. It’s quite technical but I think it promises the possibility of some excellent quality beers. A lifelong journey, I’m sure.
With bread, my first effort was with a good quality bread mix, which turned out really well last night in the pizza oven. Much better than the bland loaves I did years ago, and certainly a good replacement for commercial bread. I have an excellent bread book with recipes for hundreds of great recipes, and I have some family bread baking heritage to draw upon, (not to mention a great wood fired oven), so again it’s going to be a lifelong journey.
I just hope that I don’t decide to adopt a low carb diet. And I need to make sure I don’t become a fat bastard.