Dark Rye and Beer Sourdough Bread with Pretzel Scoring Design
Did you know that there is a National Beer Day (April 7) and a National Pretzel Day (April 26), and both in April? I didn't, but learning about it had inspired me to bake a Beer Sourdough Bread with a fun pretzel design for my German friend.
It was no surprise that the bread turned out wonderful on the first try. I mean, how can you mess anything up with beer, right? Especially German Beer! I experimented with two kinds for my two loaves: Weihenstephaner Original Premium - a pale lager with a crisp taste and mild hoppy notes and Spaten Oktoberfest - gold-colored lager with a malty flavor. Since Weihenstephaner is an 11 oz bottle, I added 1 oz of water to make it equal to a Spaten 12 oz bottle, which is about 350 g or the usual amount of liquid that I like to use in my sourdough bread. I also added 1 tbsp of Malt for even more color and flavor.
Both loaves tasted and smelled amazing! I didn't really notice a major difference there, except maybe Spaten loaf had a slightly deeper taste. However, in terms of proofing, the loaf with Weihenstephaner proofed much faster even though I mixed it last.
My choice of flour for this recipe was a blend of Bread Flour and Dark Rye Flour. I also used a Dark Rye Sourdough Starter - my favorite kind of starter at the moment because it's super active, it triples in size in no time, and makes beautiful bread!
For the pretzel design, I used a DIY paper stencil and a sharp wooden stick (like a cuticle pusher's pointy end) to trace around the stencil.
To prevent misshaping of the design, only cut out the outline and draw the lines inside.
To make the flour stick better, slightly mist the dough with water, so there is a bigger visual contrast with the design when baked.
Use a linen liner with your banneton to create a smooth surface while proofing the dough or brush off the ring lines with any brush.
Rice flour is the best for dusting the banneton and avoiding the sticking of the dough.
Check out this post: Dark Rye Fruit and Nut Sourdough for another delicious rye bread I baked!
As usual, I simplify my recipes, so they are easy to follow for beginners. I avoid using complex numbers and ingredients, so the recipe is more clear and less intimidating for new bakers. I list ingredients for 2 loaves so you can bake 2 and share 1 as a gift. To make a single loaf, simply divide each ingredient by 2.
Ingredients for 2 loaves:
Levain 1:2:2 Ratio
70 g Dark Rye Sourdough Starter
70 g Bread flour
70 g Dark Rye Flour
140 g Water (bottled or filtered)
800 g Bread flour
200 g Dark Rye Flour
700 g Beer (two 12 oz bottles)
300 g Levain
20 g Salt
1tbsp Malt (I used Briess CBW Traditional Dark Malt Extract)
Rice Flour for dusting
Prepare the Levain (morning 10 am)
Feed 70g of starter with 70g bread flour, 70 g dark rye flour, and 140g water at 85-90°F, cover, and leave it on the counter to ferment for 6 hours. It should at least double in size by then.
Make the Dough (afternoon 4 pm)
Combine 300g of starter with 700g of room temperature beer in a large mixing bowl and mix until the starter is dissolved.
Then add 1 tbsp of malt, 800g of bread flour, 200g of dark rye flour, and 20g of salt to the mixture and mix the dough with fingers until all of the ingredients are well incorporated with no dry bits left.
Cover and leave it on the counter for 1 hour.
Stretch and Fold
For the next hour and a half, perform stretching and folding technique every 30 min: take one side of the dough, stretch it as far as you can, and fold it on top of the dough. Turn the bowl counter-clockwise and do it 7 more times, stretching and folding each side.
Cover and leave the dough on the counter for 2-3 hours to rise at about 76°F room temperature.
Shape and Proof (evening 8 pm)
Mist the bannetons with water and sprinkle with Rice flour.
Gently take the dough out of the bowl, place it onto an unfloured surface, and divide it into 2 equal parts.
Shape the dough into the final round shape using the same stretch and fold technique as above, stretching and folding 4 sides until you see a smooth side of the dough (about 8 times).
Gently turn the dough with your hands round and round to create the surface tension and make it into a tight ball. Do not over-shape.
Flour the top with bread flour and put each piece in the banneton seam side up and dust the top of the dough with rice flour.
Place the bannetons in plastic bags and let the dough rest overnight in the fridge.
Bake (next day)
Test the dough if it's ready to bake by gently pressing it with your finger. If it springs back up slowly - it's ready.
Preheat the oven to maximum temperature (550°F in our case).
Carefully flip the dough out of the banneton into the dutch oven or a cast iron combo cooker (no need to preheat it.)
Dust off the rice flour with a brush, mist the top of the dough with a little bit of water and cover it in all-purpose flour, spreading it evenly.
Score the dough with a razor blade and put the lid on.
Reduce the temperature to 475°F and bake for 30 min.
Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 450°F and bake for another 20 min uncovered.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool completely before cutting.
Tools I used: