Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Monday, December 14, 2015

Doppelbock Fruit Cake

On Saturday morning I got to do one of my favourite things, doing the grocery shopping by myself. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy grocery shopping with Mrs V, but rather that when she goes running of a morning I like to take the opportunity to be in the shop early and alone, to avoid the crowds, to browse to my heart's content, and to avoid running into people with small children. As I wander the aisles I like to plan meals for the coming days, bread experiments to mess with, and beers in the booze realm to try. Thus it was on Saturday morning that I picked up a six pack of Trader Joe's Winter Brew, I won't wax lyrical here about my love for Trader Joe's beer but only because I did so in this post.

Winter Brew is labelled as a 'dark double bock lager', weighs in at 7.5% abv, is a beautiful deep garnet colour, and is rather fine drinking, so be sure to find yourselves some if you can as that is all I am going to tell you about when it comes to the beer. With two thirds of the 6 pack stoking a warming glow in the belly I decided that I needed to make fruit cake as it had been so long. I get why many people on this side of the Pond are not fans of fruit cake, especially when you see the shop bought abominations that get fobbed off on consumers and are, to put it bluntly, shit. One of the benefits of having a mother who is a phenomenal cook with a penchant for traditional cooking is knowing how things should be made (hence Mrs V and I still make our own mincemeat for Christmas, from a 250 year old recipe that includes meat).

Anyway....looking through my cook books for inspiration (there really are no such things as recipes), I pulled out my copy of 'The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook', a well thumbed resource, and decided to make a version of the Porter Cake recipe, but using doppelbock instead of stout, as well as some tweaks for what was in the cupboards, thus my recipe was:
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup raisins
  • handful of dried cranberries that were floating about
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 0.75 cup chopped candied mixed peel
  • 12oz bottle of doppelbock
  • 2.75 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
The method to my madness began with putting all the dried fruits in a big ass bowl and pouring the beer into the bowl, having first de-gassed the beer a bit by whisking it in a pint glass, and leaving the mixture to sit for at least 5 hours.

When it is time to actually make the cake pre-heat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and allspice in a bowl, then cream together the butter and sugar in another, bigger, bowl until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs a little a time, with a spoon of the flour mix as you go. Once the eggs are nicely incorporated, dump in the rest of the flour mix and beat to smooth paste, so it looks like this.

Now dump all the fruit and remaining liquid into the paste and stir, so it looks like this.

The original recipe called for the use of a 7 inch square cake pan but I don't have one of those, so I used 2 8 inch by 4 inch pans, and played around with the cooking times accordingly. Once you have greased and floured the cake tins, split the mix evenly between the two pans, and put in the oven for an hour, then lick the spoon and bowl clean to your heart's content.

After an hour, turn the oven down to 300°F/150°C and let it bake for another hour or until you can put a toothpick into the centre of the cake and it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the tins for about half an hour before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with a nice cup of tea....

So there you have it, a really easy, nice fruit cake recipe for winter. Shame the weather in Virginia isn't cooperating, sod it being 75°F/24°C yesterday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turn to the Dark Side

For the next installment of the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale Iron Brewer project, as I mentioned in a post last week, we have to use the following ingredients in our beer:
  • Honey malt
  • Hersbrucker hops
  • Ginger
I mentioned that my intention was to make a ginger saison. That is still the plan, broadly speaking, but as I was tidying up my beer cellar at the weekend, and making a list of the various ingredients I have floating about, I thought to myself, is this something worth messing around with in order to use up some random odds and sods? In particular I am considering using up the remnants of Caramel 120 to turn the beer into a "dark saison".

One thing though is clear from my stock take, I need to make a bath tub beer to use up the various bits and bobs that are in the malt store that don't really feature in my 5 brews to perfect plan. The grains I want to use up are:
  • Rauch malt
  • CaraMunich I
  • Peated malt
  • Chocolate Wheat
My immediate thought is to put the peated malt to one side and get some Munich malt or similar base malt and make a smoked dark weizen, if anyone has any better suggestions, I am all ears.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Input Wanted

I mentioned in a post last week that I am planning to perfect my homebrewing of 5 particular types of beer when Mrs V and I move into our new house. Top of that list to nail down is an Ordinary Bitter, which would I hope eventually become my house ale, once I have a kegerator and starting kegging my beers.

Bitter is one of those sadly overlooked styles here in the USA, very few professional breweries have one in their portfolio and given the low alcohol content they rarely get shipped from Blighty. There are many, many days when after work I would just love to sit down with an imperial pint of something like .

You would think then that having won a gold medal for my Ordinary Bitter at last year's Dominion Cup that I have a recipe pretty much sorted. However, that was a partial mash beer and converting a beer to all grain brewing is more than just replacing malt extract with pale malt. The main consideration is which pale malt to use, Maris Otter, Golden Promise or Optic? Here is the grain bill for a recipe I recently brewed, in preparation for an upcoming Pro-Am preliminary competition:
  • 67% Maris Otter
  • 13% Crisp Amber Malt
  • 13% Crisp Brown Malt
  • 7% Briess Caramel 10
Having done a little research, it would seem that using brown malt is fairly unusual in a bitter, of any strength, but as this was a recreation of my medal winning brew from last year, I felt it would be incongruous not to use it. The question remains though, should it stay as an ingredient in the new Dark Island Bitter? That then is the first set of tweaks for the recipe, pulling out the Brown Malt and upping both the Maris Otter and the Caramel, so the grain bill will look something like this:
  • 77% Maris Otter
  • 13% Crisp Amber Malt
  • 10% Briess Caramel 10
I am looking forward to eventually trying the two variants next to each other, and hopefully with a few learned friends from the local homebrew club, to decide which grain bill is better.

Naturally I am open to thoughts and input from brewers, both home and pro, on the grain bill as written, so feel free to weigh on in!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Very Beery Weekend

If you follow my Twitter feed, you will know that the weekend just gone was full of brewing and bottling my homebrew.

Mrs Velkyal's uncle has again asked me for some of my beers for his clients. Every year he makes a gift basket for them with organic and homemade foodstuffs. Last year I provided Machair Mor, an export stout with a hefty dose of chocolate malt, and Biere d'épices, an amber ale spiced with clove, cinnamon, ginger and dried sweet orange peel, hopped with French Strisselspalt and fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast strain. This year I am providing more of the Machair Mor, but switching out the Biere d'épices for a new beer called Winter Gold, which is kind of my take on Fuller's magnificent 1845, but with a hop dose which would put it in the same ball park as Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale.

On Saturday morning I brewed the first batch of Machair Mor and but for having to change the recipe slightly at the last minute - I forgot to buy the dark brown sugar I use and so had to dig around the cupboard and thankfully there was enough turbinado sugar to do the trick - everything went swimmingly. I ended up with a batch of 1.056 (14 Plato) of pitch black wort, which the Nottingham yeast I used munched on with much delight, when I checked the cellar this morning the krausen had all but died down. I am expecting about 5.9% abv for this one, and if it tastes as good as the gravity sample then Mrs V's uncle's clients are in for a treat.

I wasn't planning to bottle the first batch of Winter Gold until yesterday, but while changing the blow off tube to an airlock on Saturday morning, I managed to push the bung into the beer. Well, sort of. The airlock sat on the neck of the carboy, with the bung dangling above the beer, so it only went into the beer itself just before I starting siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket. Hopefully nothing drastic has happened, but retrieving the bung from the empty carboy was far easier than I anticipated. Winter Gold started off at 1.062 (15.5 Plato) and finished at 1.010 (2.5 Plato), giving it a very respectable 6.9% abv, which should go nicely with the 38 IBUs of First Gold and Fuggles, the gravity sample certainly suggests it will be a nice beer.

Having walked the dog at the crack of dawn as usual, I brewed again yesterday morning, this time as part of a project for the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale. We are starting an internal Iron Brewer, where those in the club that wish to do so will brew any beer style they want, but must use 3 ingredients chosen in advance. The plan is to present the beers at our November meeting, and our 3 must use ingredients were chocolate malt, raw blue agave syrup and Palisade hops. My plan was to make a brown ale, my plan went wrong. I say "wrong" but nothing went awry with the actually brewing process, it was more a case of not putting the right chocolate malt into Beer Calculus. I put just generic "American Chocolate" in the calculator, which has a Lovibond rating of about 125 but used Simpson's Chocolate Malt, with a rating of about 420. So my brown ale became a porter, a very dark porter at that. The actual recipe was:
  • 81% Vienna Malt
  • 10% Chocolate Malt
  • 9% Raw Blue Agave Syrup
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 60 minutes
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 15 minutes
  • 1 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 1 minute
  • 1 packet Safale US-05
All that gave me an original gravity of 1.048 (12 Plato), and the yeast was happily doing it's thing within a couple of hours.

A busy but satisfying weekend was rounded off last night with drinking a fair amount of homebrewed cider at a fellow CAMRA member's party and hearing plenty of positive feedback about the brews that I bought to the party.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What to Brew?

I mentioned on Wednesday that I am planning to brew this Sunday, usually I brew on Saturdays but this weekend I am working the tasting room at Starr Hill - if you're out and about, escaping from the coming hurricane for example, pop by and say hello, try some beer and buy some merchandise!

The question of what to brew has been going round and round my head all week. Here's the issue, I have a hefty stash of dark malts that need using, caramels of varying degrees, chocolate, chocolate wheat, bits of this and that. Obviously then I could just brew a dark ale, but I have a cellar full of dark ales, having just bottled more porter and a "dark" mild (I don't think it is particularly dark, or mild for that matter).

I thought then, what better than to ask for suggestion from the many fine people that read this blog? So here goes, I will be buying more base malt this afternoon, Golden Promise if the local homebrew place has some, Maris Otter if not, and the list below is what I have in stock and that isn't already spoken for:

  • 2lb 8oz Briess Caramel 80
  • 9oz Simpsons Chocolate
  • 12oz Weyermann Chocolate Wheat
  • 12oz Simpsons Peated Malt
  • 5oz Briess Caramel 120
  • 5oz Saaz
  • 1oz Unknown, possibly Goldings – unlabeled prize from Dominion Cup
  • 1oz First Gold
  • Nottingham Dried Yeast
  • Wyeast Biere de Garde
  • Wyeast French Saison
  • Safale 04 Dried Yeast – Whitbread
One of the reasons I am only buying base malt this afternoon is that I want to get through the malts that are knocking about before buying more. Also please keep in mind that I only brew 2.5 gallon batches, so rather than specific recipes, percentages and IBU ratings works better.

Have at it good people!

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