Black Beer Bread
100ml stout beer
4t blackstrap molasses
1t instant yeast
1t black gel-based food colouring (optional)
250ml tepid water
500g plain bread flour
1t olive oil
2T caraway seeds
250g salted butter, softened
Combine the stout, molasses, yeast, food colouring and water in a bowl. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and slowly add the liquid while running the mixer. Knead until all the dough has come together; this should take about five minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning the dough to coat it in the oil. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it in a warm place for about an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock back the dough, then knead it on a lightly floured surface before forming it into a ball. Scatter half of the caraway seeds on the work surface and roll the dough in the seeds.
Place the dough on a baking tray, cover it with a clean cloth and set it aside for an hour to double in size again. Next, bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 170°C. You can test the bread by tapping its underside – when it’s ready it should sound hollow.
While your bread is baking, toast the remaining caraway seeds in a pan. Leave them to cool before lightly crushing them with a pestle and mortar. Mix the crushed seeds through the butter and refrigerate it until you need it.
Serve the bread warm with lashings of toasty caraway butter.
Note: Black gel-based food colouring is available from most good baking outlets. If you’d like to add even more of a liquorice punch, mix in thinly sliced fennel before leaving the bread dough to prove for the second time.