Brewing Bread

Thanks to Krista, who knows someone who brews beer, I got some beer yeast of an ale/lager mixture, from the first fermentation. There was some of the stuff skimmed from the top, and a layer of sediment and liquid from the bottom. Unfortunately I did not think to take photos of these two until after I had dumped enough flour in them that they no longer looked much like their original selves.
For good measure, I fed them both two teaspoons (or one very large teaspoon) of malt syrup before adding the flour, as I hear that yeast enjoys this. Though I'm not sure our syrup still has anything active in it, at the very least it's some nice sugar for it to consume. Then I added about two cups of whole wheat flour to the sediment/bottom one, about a cup and a half to the top one, which got them to the consistency of a wetter starter. After that I covered them and waited.
I didn't have to wait long for the sediment, it doubled in size in less than an hour. The top took a bit longer, somewhere between four and six hours. Since the sediment was so enthusiastic and reminded me in looks of my rye experiment a few months ago, I fed it about a cup and a half of rye flour and another half cup of whole wheat, with about a cup of water. So that one will be a rye/whole wheat combination. The top got only whole wheat. For purposes of comparison, I guess I'm not terribly helpful - I was not sure how strong the beer flavour would, so for all I knew the rye-whole wheat contrast would be stronger. So it goes with Kimberlys Mad Style of Baking, which really means nobody, myself included, has any idea of what might happen next. The only consistent thing I have is "It seemed like a good idea at the time". Which led to oatmeal-blueberry scone cookies.

So a day after feeding the starters, letting them rise a bit and refrigerating them overnight, I took them out again and let them warm up.
I only remembered in time to get a photo of the top starter, so here it is:
It's grown a bit since it started out
Look at all the bubbles!

I gave the bottom/sediment starter about 5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 2 of water. The top starter got about the same amount of flour, but closer to 3 cups of water in total - I think that was due to the rye flour in the bottom/sediment, it doesn't need as much water as wheat. I also added 2 teaspoons of salt to each.
After kneading to get it all mixed together nicely, I cut each batch in half, and added seeds to one of the halves. The sediment/bottom bread got roasted sunflower seeds:

There is no point to this photo. I just liked the way the sunflower seeds looked.

Waiting to be put together

The top got a mixture of roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
And then they were put in lightly oiled bowls, and rolled around once or twice for good measure:
Sunflower-seed bottom/sediment, getting ready to expand again

I let them rise for a while. The sediment, not surprisingly, was very pleased at getting fed, and promptly proceeded to start rising madly. After a few hours, I put all four bowls in the fridge, and left them there overnight. I could have continued without the overnight step, but it was late and so I did it this way.
The next day I took the bowls out and gave the dough some time to warm up, then started shaping them. I was a bit rough with the sunflower/sediment, but at least learned from it and gave it's non-seeded sedimenty partner a gentler treatment (after trimming off a little bit for possible future use). The other two handled more the way I am used to, while the overall proportion of rye flour in the sediment was not that high, it was enough to be fussier than wheat flour loaves generally are. I once again let them rise, mostly on parchment paper on baking sheets (from which they would go straight into the oven), though the sunflower sediment got a proofing basket, to make up for some of the abuse I put it through.
At this point the top loaves started expanding more (in every direction), so after preheating the oven (to 550°F), scoring them and boiling some water, I put those in first. The boiling water went into a baking sheet for steam, which is supposed to prevent the bread from getting crusty too early, which would prevent the bread from expanding again as the yeast gets crazy one last time in the first few minutes of baking. The oven was turned down to 450°F after the bread went in, it was up to 550°F only because a decent bit of heat is lost in putting in the bread and tossing in the hot water - this way it still loses heat, but hopefully doesn't take as long to reach to 450°F again. I rotated the loaves once after 30 minutes, then took them out 10 minutes later, and repeated with the bottom/sediment ones.
Opening the oven to check on the loaves was an experience of its own. It let out a lovely beer smell every time. Not just a hint, but quite a strong beer smell in place of the bread smell that is usually there.

The final result
Once again it was late by this point and the bread was still very hot, so we didn't cut into them until the next day (and then enjoyed the curious mix of beer bread and cupcakes).
The beer taste was there in all of them, though it was stronger in the sediment/rye loaves. Imagine eating beer. That would be about right for those. They even had a nice beery after-taste! The seeds added another flavour and changed the texture, so in the end it's probably just a matter of preference.
The top loaves were also quite beery, but a bit lighter. Since the yeast was apparently a lager/ale hybrid, it's possible that those two yeasts and flavours were in different parts of the brew at this point? All of them were satisfyingly delicious and beery in their own manner, if I may say so.

The rye/sediment loaf...
sunflower/pumpkin seeds, top
...and the sunflower seed rye/sediment.

I think it will take a little bit before I put together a "recipe" for this - mostly I just added things in proportions that looked about right, and adjusted from there. Since I kept a little bit of the sediment loaf (and fed it into a starter), I might give it another try sometime. (For some reason, adding onions or tomatoes and cheese sounds like a brilliant idea right now. Clearly, this must be tried out sometime!)
I'm not even sure how much sense it makes to write it out as a recipe right now, but I'll give it a try and add percentages if I can figure out how to calculate the weights roughly when I used cups instead of weights to begin with.


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