I recently named a new limited edition AGA beer and was inspired to create this recipe! You can really smell the beer when you cut into this loaf.... it would be nice with butter and cheese, though we have also enjoyed it with brisket cooked in the simmering oven for 18 hours (you could also use the beer for this!). I have an AGA Total Control at home; you will need its roasting and baking ovens on, but its plates off.
Ingredients (makes two loaves):
400g local stoneground strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
100g local stoneground strong wholemeal bread flour
10g instant dried yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
290ml AGA Cast Iron Certainty Beer (or any craft beer - a nice honeyish one)
Five or six caramelised shallots (from a deli or caramelise yourself in the simmering oven), slice as finely as you can.
British Rapeseed oil for kneading
Tip the flours into a large mixing bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other (so they do not touch). Add the butter and three-quarters of the beer. Move the flour etc around gently with your fingertips then continue to add the beer gradually, until you’ve picked up all the flour. Your dough should be soft, but not soggy.
Coat your work top with a little rapeseed oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Knead for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. You could do this part with a mixer and dough hook.
When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl (you can use your mixing bowl, just oil the inside). Cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl on the top of your AGA Total Control (at the back behind the swicthed-off boiling plate not in the middle); the heat from the ovens will help it prove. If you have a classic AGA then don’t prove on top, perhaps position a foot or so away. Leave the dough to rise until at least doubled in size – two hours is fine.
Line a flat AGA baking tray with bake-o-glide.
Tip your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold it inwards until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. During this process, add the caramelised sliced shallots ensuring they are evenly dispersed. Divide into two and form into round loaves. Place on tray a good distance apart.
Put the tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about one hour on top of the switched-off simmering plate (or nearby if classic AGA). The dough will double in size. You may need to just tuck the bottom of the loaves under to perk up the shape.
Dust with flour then slash if you have a very sharp knife or better still, treat yourself to an inexpensive grignette! Dip blades in oil before using. Bake for twenty minutes on the lowest shelf in the roasting oven, then ten minutes on the lowest shelf in the baking oven. If you have a firm brown crust and a hollow tap on the bootom of the loaf, you’re done! Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.