24 oz Guinness or other stout beer (2 regular size bottles) plus 3 oz. water
2 cups dark rye flour
5 - 5.5 cups white bread flour
4 tsp fine grain salt
1 T fennel seed
How to make it
In a large bowl, combine beer and water. Whisk yeast into mixture until completely dissolved.
Add rye flour and 3 cups of white flour and whisk to obtain a thick batter. Cover batter with dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest for 2-4 hours.
Add the remaining ingredients to the batter and mix well. Scrape dough (it should be fairly wet and sticky) onto a clean work surface.
Knead roughly, incorporating as much air into the batter as possible. Dough will be sticky; don't be scared! Use a spatula or plastic dough scraper to periodically remove it from work surface and gather back into the dough. Keep working the dough, slamming it onto the work surface and folding over to trap as much air as possible. Eventually, your wet wad of dough will become somewhat workable and start congealing into a tidy ball of gluten.
Return dough to bowl, cover and rest for another 45 minutes or so.
Turn dough onto work surface and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Lay dishtowels onto your work surface and lightly flour them. Re-shape dough balls into loaves and place on dishtowels to rise.
Cover and allow to rise for 1-2 hours or until roughly doubled in volume. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450.
Make a few diagonal cuts in tops of loaves with a sharp knife or razor blade. Mist the inside of the oven with a spray bottle and slide loaves in.
After 5 minutes, turn heat down to 425 and bake for another 25 or so minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into the loaves.
(For a little more detail on working the dough, see my food blog!)