Recipe #4: Alehouse Rolls

What is it?: ‘Granary’ rolls made with oats and beer

Occasion:  International Stout Day

Yesterday, I walked into the living room to find Ollie leafing through my copy of Short & Sweet, so I told him to choose something and I would bake it.  Given that two of his favourite things are bread and beer, it was unsurprising that he went straight for the Alehouse Rolls – granary style rolls that contain rolled oats and stout.  By pure coincidence, 8th November was also international Stout Day, a day to celebrate the worldwide craft beer revolution.  Stout beers were first produced in the first half of the eighteenth century and their popularity has fluctuated since, up to the present where people are divided into the camp that see it as part of the real ale resurgence and a drink to be celebrated and the camp that see it as the tipple of the old man. I really dislike the taste of stout as a drink but, weirdly, love the smell and using it in cooking, therefore these roles are the perfect way to celebrate it.

The process of making these rolls is vastly different to any bread I have ever made before as they begin by baking the oats in the oven, boiling the beer on the stove, and then combining the two together.  This makes up the wet part of the mixture that is added to the flour to make the dough.  The rolls have the appearance of ‘granary’ bread, despite being made largely of strong white bread flour – this is due to the oats and the addition of a small amount of wholemeal flour (I used a mixture of spelt and rye) – but they still have the lightness of white bread.  Dan gives the option of dividing the dough by five to make larger rolls, or by twelve to make smaller, dinner-style rolls.  I wanted to use these for sandwiches so opted for the former and, once risen fully, they were rather large – you could probably divide them by six or seven.  Before baking, they are dampened and rolled in more oats – if only to make them look like the photograph in the book.

The best thing about the rolls are their moistness, which can only be attributed to the beer and oats mixture, along with the addition of honey and butter.  The beer is more of a small than a taste, but adds a maltiness that almost convinces you that you are eating a wholemeal bread rather than a predominantly white one.  We couldn’t even wait until they had cooled before spreading one with butter and devouring it, but they were at their best the next morning, split and filled with some very strong mature cheddar and some spicy red onion chutney.  A sandwich of champs, even if the size of the roll meant it took me over an hour to eat it.

In other news:

Last week I read on twitter that a local cafe, The Dish and The Spoon, were celebrating being open for six months. I am ashamed to say that during that six months, I did not visit the cafe once, despite the fact that it is a mere ten minutes from my flat and employs the lovely Jassy, excellent local food writer and one of our Band of Bakers, as their chef.  So following on from this tweet I decided to rectify this immediately and this morning I popped in for a coffee and a slice of cake.  The cafe is very much geared up for people with children, which is perfect for the East Dulwich/Peckham/Nunhead crowd where every second person has a buggy – they have a play area at the back to keep the little ones entertained whilst the adults enjoy their coffee.  Today I went with Naomi and Baby GG, who had a lovely time building towers and playing with balloons.  Not only are the cakes excellent (I had an Earl Grey tea loaf with lemon frosting), but they serve Dark Fluid Coffee – I will definitely be back, and not only when I have friends visiting with their children!

The Dish & The Spoon, 63 Cheltenham Road, Nunhead, London SE15 3AF.

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