The Guinness and Treacle bread is on page 28 of 100 Great Breads, by Paul Hollywood, the patron saint of breads, well at least he is in my house. There are a hundred recipes, so to make sure I get through the book in a reasonable amount of time, I try to bake two loaves a week, one an every day loaf like an everyday white or wholemeal, and the other a more exotic one. This week the Guinness and Treacle bread was supposed to be the exotic loaf. When I first made this bread, thought it’d never work. It was meaty, and being mostly wholemeal, felt compeltely different when it was being worked. I had to suspend my disbelief, this loaf was outside of my comfort zone.
As you can see, it looked like an unholy mess when I first added all of the ingredients to the cauldron, I mean mixing bowl. I’ve never worked with treacle, and I found that getting two tablespoons of treacle out was harder than I thought! That stuff sticks to everything and once you get it on the spoon, it was hard to get it off. Scrape with another spoon and it sticks to that one and so on and so on. Mrs Foodie came to the rescue by instructing me to warm the spoon up. Half a minute in boiling hot water made all the difference.
This just left me with the contents of the bowl. It reminded me of some of the things I’ve seen in B-movies and was getting ready for it to jump out and attack. It was at this point that I decided to trust in St Paul, and carry on working the dough. The patron saint of breads could not, after all be wrong on things of a leavened nature. Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, it began to come together, and I tipped it onto the work surface before all the flour had been worked into the dough ball. That way I don’t need to flour the worktop as I use some of the flour that’s going in the bread to keep the dough from sticking to my worktop. It’s a much tighter dough than your average white loaf, and it took some working, and it took a while. It felt much coarser than the white loaves I’ve been used to and all the time I wondered how it’d turn out. I kneaded it for what felt like ages and it refused to yield. It didn’t feel like it was getting appreciably stretchier or silkier and for a moment, I had visions of baking a brick. St Paul counselled patience, and ten minutes later it looked and felt like it was going to make a good loaf. The jBug certainly had fun poking the dough. The froth in the Guinness does help the dough rise. I baked one with frothy Guinness straight out of the can and another with Guinness that I’d defrosted and the froth one rose a lot more. Now that’s an interesting thought. Can I get even more rise out of my loaves if I use fizzy water to mix up the dough? By the time the rising and proving was done, I was rather proud of it. It looked and felt like bread was supposed to, and I wondered why I’d ever doubted St Paul. When it came of the oven, I couldn’t wait to try it. Guinness and treacle would have you expecting a very hearty bread, one slightly sweet but very versatile. It goes well with your bacon and eggs, and just as well with fried apples, in fact I think that combination is a marriage made in heaven. I tried them in ham sandwiches and it worked too. So far the only things that I’ve tried that don’t work with this bread are banana and lime (Don’t ask me why). jBug has liked it so much he’s been asking for it ever since!