Alca-ma-holic Bread!
November 1, 2008 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Did I just make alcoholic bread? Can I eat it?

So I've been playing with making no-kneed breads.
The basic recipe is some flour, some yeast, let it rise for 20h or so, then bake it for 45min or so.
Turns out pretty nice as it is.. so I decided to make up some cranberry bread - same recipe, but toss in some dried cranberries while Im mixing it.

I let it rise for 20h, and I walk over to bake it, get a good whiff of the dough, and realize that fruit + yeast = fruit wine... oops - never put that together when I was making it...

Can I still bake it? Or am I better off tossing it? I know how to cook off alcohol in cooking, but in baking I just want to make sure that Im not either about to try something that's going to taste really REALLY bad (fermented cranberries) or blow up my kitchen (gas oven) :-)

Any bakers out there?
posted by niteHawk to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Alcohol cooks off under temperature. That being said, I've made a whole lot of bread that was kind of.... boozy, and I've suffered no ill effects.

Still, if you don't feel comfortable, toss it.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2008


Yeah, there will be some alcohol in there it is a normal byproduct of the yeasts' digestive cycle. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the same species used in a lot of beer brewing.

The flavor and smell will bake out, I know of one person who doesn't like this recipe because it smells too much like beer once cooked. I think it smells like bread. If the flavor is off to you, toss it after baking, but I'd go ahead and enjoy it.
posted by Science! at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2008


I have made beer bread in a gas oven. Nothing blew up.

I wouldn't worry about baking it. It might or might not taste nice once it's done, but if it doesn't taste nice, throw it out then.
posted by fuzzbean at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2008


All yeast breads have alcohol; eat it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:05 PM on November 1, 2008


Thanks all - that's what I thought :-)
Into the oven it goes!!
posted by niteHawk at 6:18 PM on November 1, 2008


To my understanding, one of the primary differences between brewing/winemaking yeasts and baking yeasts is that baking yeasts provide more CO2 for rising, while wine yeasts tolerate alcohol better. (Sub-varities have flavor differences.)

Active sourdough starters tend to have a boozy smell to them, too. You can pour it out when it separates, or mix it back in (the alcohol will almost entirely evaporate), and you would basically need to use a still before you had enough to risk a fire. Don't worry about it.
posted by silentbicycle at 8:04 PM on November 1, 2008


Hell, I've made ammonia cookies. Ethyl Alcohol boils off far below baking temperatures (this is how distillation works, after all.) So, yes, after 20 hours, yeast+sugar=ethyl alcohol, but after 30 minutes at 350F, all of that alcohol will be gone.

(For those wondering, google up ammonium bicarbonate.)
posted by eriko at 8:25 PM on November 1, 2008


I have an artisan bread baking book which I am reading right now, and it says that a) alcohol is a normal constituent of yeast-fermented dough and b) almost all of it evaporates during baking.

Hope your bread turned out nice.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:07 PM on November 1, 2008


I was about to say it was worth a shot, but I see you put it in. Nthing that alcohol is normal in bread, and it will cook off assuming you bake it anywhere near normally. Also, I can't see throwing out dough that you used perfectly good ingredients in just because you're worried it won't taste great. Experimenting is part of cooking!

Hope it comes out well. I'm guessing the berries won't taste too boozy, thanks to low moisture and high sugar (which will suck the moisture out of yeast trying to eat the berries' sugar).
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:17 PM on November 1, 2008


I've done plenty of long ferments, and sometimes they smell a little weird, but they bake up delicious. Twenty hours isn't enough to ferment fruit/grain that much anyway.
posted by O9scar at 10:38 PM on November 1, 2008


Some breads specifically call for alcohol; for example, Shiner Bock beer bread is popular in Texas. The alcohol entirely cooks off and you don't taste alcohol in the end result. I don't drink at all and I eat beer bread and all manner of other things cooked with alcohol.
posted by Nattie at 11:52 PM on November 1, 2008


Shouldn't be boozy at all. (Ethyl) Alcohol evaporates at 173.1°F, and the starches in bread fully gelatinize and set at 200°F(ish).

Also, eriko, ammonium bicarbonate cookies are heavenly. Unreal texture. They make your bakeshop stink like ammonia though.
posted by sindas at 3:26 AM on November 2, 2008


The reality is that not all of the alcohol will bake off (seems counterintuitive, given the stats sindas just listed, but some of the alcohol is trapped). Also, some of the alcohol is intermixed at the molecular level with water in such a way that the two actually modify each other's freeze and evaporation points.

However, for all practical purposes, your bread won't be any more alcoholic than Wonder white (which also contains some of that still-trapped alcohol, but in minute quantities).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:08 AM on November 2, 2008


Nthing everyone else to say:

Yes, alcohol is a normal byproduct. You don't normally get a huge amount produced because baker's yeast is optimised to produce plenty of carbon dioxide but not to survive alcohol, which is slightly poisonous to yeast (and pretty much every other living thing). To get higher levels of alcohol you'd need to use brewer's yeast, which is optimised (through some combination of "directed evolution", selective pressure and maybe genetic engineering) to survive high levels of alcohol in its environment. Hmm... I have bread flour and know someone who'll give me brewer's yeast; I now know what I'll be doing next weekend!

Also, most of it will evaporate off during cooking but possibly not all. This will depend on fairly obvious factors like how thick your loaf is (i.e. how far will alcohol need to travel to escape from the centre of the dough?), how dense your loaf is and how moist it is (higher humidity from water will slow alcohol's evaporation and convection).

Probably not all of it will escape. I've only heard of this being a problem once, with beer bread. I gave the recipe to a friend who lacks the enzyme needed to deal with alcohol, so she gets flushed and tipsy very fast on very little alcohol. She claims that a few slices of the fresh beer bread were enough to get her pleasantly tipsy, although the fumes from the baking loaf probably helped too.

Anyway, you should definately eat it. Assuming you can process alcohol normally you'll definately be fine. I suppose that if you have any doubts you could avoid driving immediately after? :D
posted by metaBugs at 9:23 AM on November 2, 2008


The only bad thing is it may have over-fermented, and won't rise so much in the oven...

How'd it come out?
posted by dubitable at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2008


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