Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Arrogant Bastard

I'm not being vitriolic, it's the name of the beer that I used for our new bread. You've seen it, it has a print of an angry gargoyle on its bottle wearing a scowl and two curled horns...

So, I was at the market the other day, and I watched this guy march over to the beer shelf and grab a few bottles of this Arrogant Bastard Ale. I was intrigued. He was so resolute, a knowing smile stretched across his face, as though he had fond memories of its company, had waited all week to acquaint himself with it again,  like an old friend. I ventured that it must be pretty damned good. I grabbed a couple myself.

Arrogant Bastard, a bread

You know, I've been wanting to make a beer bread for a while now, but I didn't know how to go about it. Does the beer help the dough rise? Do you replace all of the water with beer? Will it be gross? Will I get drunk when I eat it? If so, how many slices will it take? Further,what type of beer does one use?

So many questions have kept me hamstrung for months now, and so today I decided to just wing it. Worse case scenario, it's gross and then I just don't write a post about it. Best case scenario, it's excellent, and I get a buzz while I'm eating it.

No buzz, but it is fabuleaux! And not for the faint of heart. As the bottle declares, this is an aggressive beer, and this aggression translates unto the baked loaf of bread. 'Liquid Arrogance', is how the company further describes its ale, and I would have to agree. The bread itself indeed tastes like the Arrogant Bastard that it is - definitively bitter, fruity, resolute. The notes of caramel echo in the tawny crumb. Powerful, yes, though it has its charms, perhaps that is its charm. It is absolutely beautiful with charcuterie and cheese (and the last of the beer from the bottle).

I used a 100% hydration, 100% organic dark rye starter for this bread, and equal measures of dark BRM rye and Arrogant Bastard for the levain. The just-mixed levain had a bitter-fruity aroma, and the next day it puffed up beautifully. I was a little afraid of how it would behave using beer in place of water, alas, my fear has been dispelled.

I did indeed decide to replace the total quantity of water with beer in the dough as well, and the result was an incredibly earth-shattering crust, and a moist and wholly fragrant crumb. Full gelatinization was realized with the 20-hour final proof, refrigerated, of course, and with 67% hydration (not incl. levain hydration; WITH levain quantities included, it weighs in at a 75.55% hydrated loaf), it achieved fabulous oven spring and pronounced ears. I was worried that it might break down with a long final ferment, but it did not. The crumb was light/chewy with no density at all. The dough was easy to work with as well, heady and unique.

This formula is a keeper, and now that we know that the flavor profile of the beer that you use directly translates unto the bread, you can safely engineer a loaf that is more or less strong, more or less hoppy, by either experimenting with different beers (if you prefer, use one less arrogant), or using a ratio of water and beer to get the flavors exactly where you want them. Although, I'm pretty happy with the unique flavor and edginess of my bread using 100% Arrogant Bastard for the dough and I won't change this particular formula, I am jazzed to experiment with other beers to see what I can achieve. Of course, I will pass on my findings so that you can successfully bake your own without fear.

Here are the details of your arrogant bread.


43g Starter
157g Arrogant Bastard Ale (you will need a 1 Pt. 6 Oz. bottle for the entire formula)
157g BRM Dark Rye Flour

Mix together the above into a smooth paste, and ferment overnight. Mine took 9 hours, and my house is pretty cool.

500g KA bread flour
335g Arrogant Bastard Ale
11g salt

Dissolved the starter with the Bastard Ale, then mix in the flour until you reach a shaggy mass. Autolyse the dough for one full hour, and drink the remaining bit of beer.

After the hour-long autolyse, squish the salt into the dough with your fingers until thoroughly incorporated.

Time for the 4 hour bulk fermentation.

The first two hours of the bulk fermentation, you will perform a series of turns every half hour at cool room temp. For the third hour, leave the dough unmolested at cool room temp. Refrigerate the dough for the final hour.

After the bulk fermentation is complete, turn the dough out onto a counter that has been dusted with brown rice flour and gather it together in a loose round. Cover with a bowl and rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, flip it over onto a clean part of the counter and twist into a boule (the clean counter will create friction against the dough and help you to make a tight boule.

Pop the dough into a bowl that has been lined with linen and dusted liberally with brown rice flour. Pop this into the fridge, covered, of course, and ferment for 20 hours.


One hour before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 550 degrees outfitted with both halves of your cast iron combo cooker and a baking stone.

After the FULL hour of preheating, pull the dough out of the fridge, fit a piece of parchment over the mouth of it, place a peel on top, and flip the bowl over so that the dough lands on the parchment over the peel. Score the dough in some unique fashion.

Slide it, parchment and all, into the shallow end of your awaiting combo cooker. Cover with the fat end. Turn the oven down to 475 degrees and steam for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minute steam, remove the fat end of the combo cooker wearing an oven mitt to avoid a nasty steam burn. Marvel at your perfectly steamed loaf. Slide it back into the oven, turn it down to 450 degrees and bake till chestnut brown, and not a moment before. No one wants a blonde loaf of bread, especially an arrogant bastard like this.

Wait a full hour and a half before slicing. And have with cheese and charcuterie.

This arrogant bastard has been sent off to Susan's Wild Yeast Blog to be admired in all its arrogant glory.

To the staff of life!



  1. This is the most gorgeous loaf of beer bread I've ever seen. I just happen to have rye flour handy too. Will definitely be making this one!

    1. Thanks Laura! Let me know how yours turns out!

    2. I'm in bulk fermentation as I write this...I'm curious how yours turned out. Right now, i'm feeling skeptical but love the experiment so far

  2. Hi Francis-Olive
    I'm not getting a 67% hydration. More like 75%. How you doing the math? Otherwise....food porn. So sexy!!!! Great job. What is your strategy for when to take the bread out of the oven? Most sites seem to say 30 minutes with lid on and then fifteen minutes to forty minutes with lid off. Waddya think??? Thanks Sam

    1. hi sam. hydration not including levain. and, bake till chestnut brown. 30 minutes steam, then however long it takes thereafter. mine seem to take anywhere from 30 to 40 more minutes.


  3. Gotcha. I should have been able to figure that out. You have done 80% hydration as well. Right? Why the relatively low number here? BTW, I love your site. Thanks for your words. Sam

  4. i dont like wrestling with wet dough, and it also does not hold 'les grignes' as well as one that is less hydrated. lovely crust either way. ive found that the crust as just as shattery with lower hydration (i mean, adequately hydrated) as with high hydrations, and you get the good ears. the crumb WILL be more closed (as you see, this is pretty much all white flour, save for the levain) in my bread because of my 'adequate hydration', but then, i don't like bread with big holes because everything falls through. Finally, the texture of the crumb in adequately hydrated breads is just as lovely (fully gelatinized) as with higher hydrations. So, for someone like me, working with adequate vs. high hydration is perfect. If it's holes you're after, water away... Thanks for writing!

  5. I use Tartine recipes all the time, and haven't even thought of beer! I'm sure the rye - ale accent is awesome!

    1. This is such a good starting point. Now that we know how beer behaves in bread, we can try all kinds of combinations -- different flours, different beers. Let me know how yours turns out!


  6. Happy New year! It has been such a pleasure to discover your inspiring bread blog. I am looking forward to more wonderful bread and creative ideas of your.

    I really need to practice more on how ro score my bread. I remember you mentioned somewhere in your post that you score your bread deeply to get the ears, instead of shallow cut? Would you mind sharing your technique? I might also borrow your formula for this bread, I never made bread using beer before. But, I am also a bit afraid that it will taste too bitter to my palate. If I don't use this specific brand, is there any other brand that you would recommend me? Perhaps something sweeter (I never drank beer, so I have no idea how it taste)? Thanks Francis-Olive :) Hope I don't take up much of your time with all of this question :)

    1. Hi Dewi! Thank you so much. Your bread is really inspiring too. I LOVE your current post. I will do a post with the scoring next. Yes, try Hoegaarden, that's a sweeter beer. If you don't like bitter, you won't appreciate this beer in your bread (I'm not a beer drinker, but Arrogant Bastard is an exception. It's really good. But very 'hoppy', meaning, bitter. And pretty much what you taste in the beer is going to translate down to the bread, all of the nuances it seems, from bitter/sweet, to the floral or fruity notes of the beer.

      I have the Ken Forkish book too! I think I'm going to try this formula for my next post. I LOVE the crust that you got. Simply beautiful!


    2. Thank you ;). I will try to look for Hoegaarden, and I am looking forward to read about your scoring technique.

    3. I made my first beer bread from Jim Lahey's excellent book "My Bread". He used Guinness Stout, and so did I. It was delicious. As Olive says, the taste of the beer is transferred to the bread. It seems beer bread always result in awesome loaves.


  7. Dear Francis-Olive,
    thank you so much - just reviewed my recipes for the next month and i was missing the one with beer. Perfect timing. Will give your's a try the next days and will post it soon - depending on the outcome :-) - but anyhow i will have fun - was not drunken as a baker so far.....your's at least is just beautiful and i guess delicious too. Love your style... Best wishes for 2013 - Bernd from Basel, Switzerland

    1. Bernd! There you are :)

      I would love to see how yours turns out. What beer do you plan to use? I was thinking of something sweeter next time round. Perhaps Hoegaarden. This was my first beer bread, and I don't know why I'm astonished, but the beer directly translates unto the loaf of finished bread. I think that it's because so many times when you're working with something specific, I rarely translates so literally. And I'm talking down to the fruit and the floral nose.

      I'm glad you wrote. I hope you're well. I look forward to all of your projects in 2013. PS, Basel? That's near Gryon. One of my absolute favorite places in all of Switzerland and maybe all of the world. I dream about going back often, running through the alps, plodding through the snow. And the air, it's so clean! When I visit, perhaps we can go skiing together and afterward bake a loaf of bread ;)


    2. Oh my dear....,
      i did it!
      The bread is fantastic and a real pleasure. Yes, i did it and i am happy. It now leads my top ten for at least this year. Thanks again.
      Yes, i also own a book of Chad Robertson - Tartine and with all respect i made it now 10 times but i am still not really happy with it. I will continue doing it and hopefully this year i will post my results and experiences with the country bread. Will utilize all of your experiences there...

    3. kewl.
      i LOVE it when people make the bread from my blog and it works. knock on wood, i have yet to have anyone write to tell me that its failed. i dont think it will. i hope it won't!

      top ten?? NICE! im about to bake a new loaf and do a post as we speak. it's another experiment with beer. check in...

      yes, tartine is tough. alas, if you keep going with experimenting, you will find your own way. hence, the tartine bread experiment. i've not used any of the formulae in the book for probably over a year, and the thing that i appreciate most about it is the encouragement to find your own bread path, and the sense of personal fulfillment you get when you do that rather than following a formula to the 'T', and keeping yourself tethered to another baker's experiences. chad's book, i think, was written so that we can all sense our own way through all of this, he cut out the hard and fast rules and said, 'hey, try this, and work with it, and if it doesn't work, use your senses...'

      this is what i got from it anyway.

      i say experiment conservatively, little differences with each bread..

      but who am i telling?? you?? your blog is arguably one of the best on the net. certainly one of the top ten bernd. without doubt. i am always impressed (and a little daunted) by your experiments. they seem so... baker quality. i don't know if i am ready to advance the way that you have.


  8. Francis, I like the idea of doing the beer. Going to give it a try in the AM. BTW, I'm in San Francisco, you're in LA right??? I'm going to use Racer 5. It's an excellent beer made in Healdsburg, north of Santa Rosa. They ought to have it in LA. Hoegarden should be good, tho a little tame for my palate. I like something with a little more Hopsiness. I'll take some pics and share with you tomorrow evening. Sam

    1. Kewl. I miss the bay. I am indeed in LA, for the moment. I think I prefer hoppy beers, but then, I like bitter things. I do like Racer 5. I would love to see pix of your bread. Are you going to do a full 20 hour proof? I was going to pull mine at 12-15 hours to see what came of it. Let me know what you end up pulling it at. And let me know if you use full beer or a ratio of water and beer and if you increase the hydration for a more open crumb. I think I'm going to try another one this weekend, but I have not decided which beer. The bay should be nice and cool for room temp ferments right about now. I was able to do most of the bulk at room temp, something you never want to do in LA since its warm as a rule. But its been cool here, so, I thought I might take advantage of it. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!


      Do you have a blog?

  9. If you went a little less boule shaped, and with a little more length to the loaf, might this become an Arrogant Batard?

  10. Oh. Graham. LOL. Thanks for the chuckle. And yes, you would be right about that.



  11. Hi Francis-Olive
    My bier-brood (that's beer-bread in Dutch (or Flemish)) just came out of the oven. I did a full Tartine recipe, i.e. 1000 grams of flour. I usually do a 50/50 whole wheat/all purpose blend. 75% hydration after the levain is ready. I thought I would use Racer 5, but instead used Anchor Steam. I live very close to Anchor Steam on SF's Potrero Hill. I made the first loaf yesterday and did the bulk rise at room temp. (I was having a party last night so I was under the gun time wise.) First loaf four hour bulk ferment. Interestingly, very little beer smell or flavor, tho the bread was very good. Second loaf just out of the oven this morning. 20 hour fridge ferment. This time, I can smell the brewery in the bread. I really pushed the off-lid cooking. The loaf is a chocolate brown. Can't wait to try. AND....this is the first time I've "heard" the bread once it's out of the oven. Maybe I haven't been cooking previous loaves long enough. Can't wait to try!!!

    1. Kewl. I LOVE Potrero Hill. So, 4 hours room temp bulk, and 4 hours final fermentation? Both at room temp? And very little beer flavor/smell. Very interesting. You know, I do the bulk of my bulk ferment (no pun intended) in the fridge (2 hours at R/T with turns, 2 hours in the fridge). With this last loaf, I did 3 hour bulk at VERY COOL room temp (it was freezing that day, and I didn't have the heat on), and decided to see what would happen. So, 3 hours bulk at R/T, 1 hour refrigerated. It worked well. The week prior I did a loaf with the bulk totally at R/T, and it was horrible. It was flabby and gassy and wicked. It wasn't hot in my house, but I did have the heater on, so, it was like 'normal house temperature'. I will never do that again. I am such a fan of the fridge. You have absolute control of the fermentation. You can always 'toggle' your fermentation in/out of the fridge as I do with my bulk, if you want to experiment with acceleration of fermentation (as you did on party night). But I must say, every time I have made a loaf not using the fridge at any part of the fermentation, it just never comes out as well -- flavor, texture, shape, crust. When people send me emails about gassy dough, or problems with fermentation/overproofing, I always preach about the fridge. I think I preach about it even when not asked to. The thing is, the fermentation fridges that they have in bakeries, I don't think they are as cold as the fridge. I think they are like 'cave cool', maybe like a wine cellar? I was actually contemplating getting a little wine fridge and experimenting with fermentation there. But using the fridge allows you to really push all levels of fermentation, which is where all the magic happens in bread, right, so you want the bread to have as much time as it needs. If time is what a bread needs for flavor/texture/great crust, well then, the fridge is the way to allow it that time without freaking out if it will over ferment. I do my ryes in the fridge too. And rye is one of the flours that breaks down with long fermentation times. My ryes ferment for 15-18 hours no problem. In fact, it's my favorite bread (although, I have not tried a siegle under that length of fermentation, I ought to so that soon. I think my city bread rye is only like 20% rye in the dough).

      Ain't nothin' better than (as Chad says) the song of bread, right? Sam, this is something that I never ever change: 550 FULL HOUR preheat (seriously, no cutting off minutes), bring the oven down to 475 for the 30 minute steam, take off the lid and bring the oven down to around 450 for the bake, turning it at least once mid way for even baking, until you reach 'chestnut brown', and is typically another 30 minutes, sometimes 35, 40, or even 45 more minutes, depending upon the bread.

      Thanks for writing!


    2. OK, the results are in for the second loaf: Best brod I've ever made. The Anchor Steam gave a nice not-too-hoppy flavor. Wonderful. Pushing the time on the ferment AND bake was key. The crust was SHATERRING under the knife. Crumbs every where. Taste...sweet and sour is all I can say. Lovely. Little bit 'o butter. Yum.

      BTW, lid on for 30 minutes at 450 and off for only 15 minutes. (Started at 500+ then took down...) I don't know how you go longer. I'd have charcoal if I went any longer. As it was, the bottom was a teensy bit blackish. Sooooo good tho.

      Now the why on the flavor improvement: I think the fridge ferment helped the sourness...in a good way. Second loaf waaaay more flavorful. Key there is TIME. I haven't gone more than 24 hours. I've heard that some of the bakers up here in SF do 36 or 48 hour "cave" ferments. BTW, I think calling it a cave ferment in terms of temp is probably right. If you are interested, you should be able to find an inexpensive small fridge on craigslist. Probably giving them away!!!
      Also, the AnchorSteam had a nice sweet malty flavor to add to the bread. But you could hardly percieve it in the first loaf. Maybe b/c we were eating homemade fried chicken with it. Which even so didn't taste as good as the bread OR home made toffee!!!
      The first loaf was very good. Just not excellent like the second one. Let me repeat: I did four hour initial at RT for both loaves and did a four hour bulk ferment for the loaf we ate last night. Worked fine. And did it with the heat in the house ON!!! So, try it again. I agree with you: fridge is better, but I think you should be OK with RT ferment if you monitor things carefully.

      Next time, I'm going to get rid of the cast iron and try to cook on the pizza stone with a cover on top. I've come to the conclusion that earthen ware tastes better than iron...tho I still love iron. I'll probably use the bottom part of my Le Creuset as the roof to cover my bread on the pizza stone. Waddya think???

      BTW, the one pointer you need to repeat to all readers that I have found most useful from your site is: Do two days of thrice refreshing starters BEFORE you get your levain going. That fresh starter makes a big difference!!! Here ye here ye, do this!!! Francis-Olive is right!!!!

      I think I'm ready to do Rye.....

    3. Hey Sam. I am a big fan of triple feedings. I will try the RT bulk again, but frankly, I have serious ADD, and I multi-task like a mutha&^%, so, part of the reason the fridge works for me is because once the dough is in there, I can't destroy it by forgetting about it. LOL. I have to set timers or I forget things. I have to tell myself not to leave the house when I am baking a loaf, because I'll think, 'oh, I should get dog food now, then go to the post office, and then I have to do xxxx', alas, the fridge is my friend. I hope I never burn the house down.

      I've thought about that pizza stone deleo. Then I can make batards. Yeah. Let's make some batards and see if we can work that out. So far I've had crap luck. But I do need to try something new.

      Check back in a couple of weeks, I have a fabulous new post planned that is right up your alley.

      I hope you're well. Next time I'm in the bay we should meet at Tartine!


    4. Oh, Sam, check out this post about me... http://www.myitaliansmorgasbord.com/2013/01/06/tartine-bread-experiments-city-bread-in-light-spelt-an-act-of-love-a-thing-of-beauty/

  12. You sent a combo cooker to Sverige??? I assume you didn't FedEx it!!! LOL...

    BTW, I've only used standard dutch ovens, all of which have worked just fine. Getting the loaves out of the dutch oven can sometimes be problematic, but not a big deal. The removal of the bread from the Lodge combo cooker is a little easier, I assume.

    Yeah...batards. Combo cooker won't work. I'm thinking about buying a large square roasting pan w/out handles that you could flip over to cover the bread. I'll let you know what I find.

    Keep up the good work. Your photos are great.

    One other thing: I've noticed you've increased your salt amount. So have I. I use Himilayan salt which is 17% minerals that are not NaCl. As such, I've increased my salt by 20% by weight. I go to 23.5-24 grams. I do like my salt....

    Oh, and I've never been to Tartine, tho I've driven past it a million times.


  13. Hi Olive,

    Thank you for this excellent blog! I am a Tartine fan since August 2012, and I bake about 2 loaves a week. You solved the problems I was having with inconsistent results -- sometimes the scores would bleed, sometimes the bread would be hard, sometimes the dough would stick to the linen, and sometimes all would be woderful. I see now that hydration is key. You have to "feel" the dough during the first mixing or at most at the first turn. Also, your 20-hour cold fermentation is great; it freed my schedule enormously.

    I very much look forward for your blog on scoring techniques. It is a simple thing with infinite possiblities and leads to astonishing aesthetic results. I loved the "reverse S" shape, I do not know if you had a name for it.

    I agree with Mary, you should consider publishing a book. Your pictures are good enough.


    1. you are so sweet. i am doing a post this week, scoring, beer, refrigerated starters. so, check back. my goal for 2013 is to really dive in and do more interesting things. i am SOOOO busy these days with 12-hour writing days, but i really need to set aside some serious time for bread stuff.

      i am so honored that people think i should do a bread book, but i am noooooo bread baker aside from what i do at home here. my goal is to just figure stuff out so that it translates to the best 'bakery bread' that we can possibly make at home. and i like giving it away for free. my payment is knowing that everyone has access to this information as i learn on my own bread path, and that you keep baking fabulous loaves at home. i know how frustrating it can be to get your bread wrong. it's so frustrating wasting time/flour and all of that. so, the fact that people write to me and tell me that they are making bread with consistent results every single time, well, i don't think i could ask for more than that. my only hope is that people keep checking back, even if i'm only posting twice a month or so.

      thanks MTK. your message means a lot to me! the funny thing is, my next bread is a stout. with a fun twist!


  14. hmmm....
    i found this page yesterday only, and i think its reaaaly interesting! actually, im from completely different part of the planet, but i would like to say hi, and tell you, that we here in the heart of Europe bake bread too :D.
    actually, some of us are getting crazy about it.... we already have the starter map for sharing :D.
    Anyway - you are doing great job, so please, continue.
    Im thinking about trying the beer bread, but im not sure, if the beer here in Slovakia will be the same and usable for bread as you have there...
    we will seee ;)


  15. Hi Francis-Olive, I am newbie-baker and now I am carefully studying your blog. I have been very enthusiastic in making bread for a couple of weeks only. Though I find it veeeery sacrilegious to use beer in bread making :), today I am enjoying the result of this great recipe. As I live in a beer Kingdom, The Netherlands, I have used Palm, which is a type of ale. The result is great. I baked in Dutch oven with lid for 30 minutes and lid off for another 20 minutes. I would perhaps put another couple of grams of salt next time, but I think it is very personal choice. I was just wondering how would a pinch of sugar reflect on the flavour and the rise of the dough.... For sure, this recipe is one I am going to make on a regular basis. Thank you for it:)))... PS. Sorry, I am still anonymous :(

  16. This is such a gorgeous bread and I'd love to try it. Your instructions all are very clear and I think I could pull it off fairly well, but try as I might I can't figure out what you are referring to in your last bit about the "peel". What peel? Please help. Thanks in advance.

  17. hey julie. a pizza peel. its the board with a handle that you use to slide pizzas in and out of the oven.

  18. I'm so glad to have found your blog! I've tried several of your breads with great luck. I just pulled this bread (made with Hazed and Confused, 1/4 final dough/boule) and I'm so pleased with it! See instagram pic here: https://instagram.com/p/0LAcmYE8GF/. I was really worried it wouldn't come out, first because the dough was SO wet, I wasn't sure enough structure was built during the S&Fs/turns and retards/ferments. Then I was worried because I thought it might dry out too much in refrigerator thanks to my jerryrigged bannetons and covers. Phew, I'm so glad my worries were for naught - or at least that whatever user error there was didn't mar the product too much.

    I have your chocolate stout bread next on my list and look forward to trying to better my technique. Thanks for such an inspiring and informative blog!

  19. This looks amazing. I would try it. Thanks

  20. i've just put mine in the oven. it looks much too wet but i'm following the text.




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