This recipe uses Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, a relatively dry ale with a rich nutty colour and a palate of beech nuts, almonds and walnuts. It’s the perfect addition to this loaf, imparting a lovely nutty flavour and aroma.
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is made with well water (dating from 1758, the original well at the Old Brewery is still in use and the hard well water is drawn from 85 feet underground); best barley malt, yeast and aromatic hops; and then fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’.
For the loaf
- 350g/12oz rye flour
- 150g/5½oz strong white flour, plus extra for flouring
- 10g/¼oz salt
- 10g/¼oz instant yeast
- 50ml/2fl oz black treacle
- 140ml/4¾fl oz water
- 250ml/9fl oz Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
For the beer batter topping
- 150ml/5fl oz ale
- 100g/3½oz rye flour
- pinch sugar
- handful jumbo oats
- Mix the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the treacle, 100ml/3½fl oz of the water and 150ml/5fl oz of the ale. Using your hands, stir the ingredients together until all the flour leaves the side of the bowl. Gradually add the remaining ale and water if needed – the dough should be soft and all the sides of the bowl should be clean.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet initially but will become smooth once worked. When the dough has a smooth skin put it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film or a clean, damp dish cloth and leave for two hours.
- For the topping, mix the ale with the rye flour and a pinch of sugar to form a thick batter.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Spread the ale paste over the loaf and sprinkle the jumbo oats on top. Place the loaf onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Leave to prove for one and a half hours.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 10 minutes.
- The loaf will be golden-brown and should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave to cool on a wire rack.