I do not profess to be meditatively advanced. Au contraire, I have struggled with meditation over the years because I do not have a confident relationship with subtlety. I confess that my character is largely boorish and unrefined, and so the more ethereal aspects of my own life escape me. My basement life. I do recognize the value of being attuned to the more finespun levels of being, but I have all but tiptoed around them because I am afraid that my crude habits and tendency to ham-handle will bring them crashing down around me, and then no amount of time or spiritual glue will be able to put it all back together again. My root cellar littered with shards of the unfamiliar. What's more, I have convinced myself that an alignment with subtlety will somehow cause me to vanish, or worse, lose my grip. This variety of spirit I've become, you know, if it is replaced with something more delicate, more abstract, my essence may somehow dissolve into this universal salinity that I imagine, my definition bleeding out into the endless black. A darkness that I have yet to hold my candle to. I have so much invested in being a primal beast with obvious and unmistakable forms of energy. I box things. I grab things. I need things clearly defined. If I agree to investigate nuances and ways of being that lack the concreteness that I am accustom to, can I trust that I will continue to recognize myself or remain characteristically substantive? There is a reason, then, that I have been drawn here by these few elements: wheat, my crude self, water the illuminative conduit that sets to path a fundamental growth, the candle if you will; this procured yeast a burgeoning subtlety that when trusted in steadfast patience can transmute these familiar elements into fathomless sustenance for the soul.
Today I've made four boules...
These four cleaved from two carefully manipulated slabs of energized flour and water. The first duo arrives as whole wheat sourdough with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a fairly generous addition.
The second, a lovely rye with black, oil cured olives.
I wish I'd had more on hand, it would have made for more of an olive bomb.
I used a rye levain for the rye loaves. My starter is a 100% hydration starter. I am less embarrassed about the number of starters that I have, and more appreciative that I can pull the most appropriate starter for the bread that it suits best.
And Tartine's 50/50 whole wheat/all purpose flour levain for the whole wheat. The starter for this levain is at 100% hydration.
Both breads are made using Tartine's formulae but with my adaptations: For the whole wheat, I added the toasted seeds,
I also used 225g of levain instead of 200g (for both loaves) as the formula directs just to see what would happen. I don't regret it. For the whole wheat, instead of the additional 50g of water that is added to facilitate salt distribution after autolyse, I used Eden's organic barley malt syrup, this worked out quite well.
For the rye, I found the dough unpleasantly sticky, to the point where it was almost like a batter.
I had this same issue with the last rye that I made using Tartine's formula. I know that rye is notoriously tricky to work with, but this was unbearable. Even I, the most novice of them all (these four make a mere 15 sourdough loaves in my bread career), knew that there was no way that that pancake batter was going to form any kind of boule, so I added 35g more white flour to the formula, not early on, but toward the end of a sequence of turns when it was evident that the ooziness of it all was not going to develop appropriate gluten structure. This definitely shaped things up a bit, and it was still a very wet, very unruly piece of dough. As well, the olives, though they have low moisture content, probably added to the hydration percentage a bit. Even with the addition of extra flour I had to get the boules into the combo cooker at lightening speed or the dough would have bled out into that universal abyss that I was blathering on about somewhere in the earlier part of this post.
I am really interested in working more with rye, just for sheer desire to conquer the beast. If anyone has any pointers, please feel free to lend me your words of wisdom.
Here are the formulae for the two loaves which include my timing and alterations to the originals. They both make two loaves:
Toasted sunflower and pumkin seeds, about 2 cups
(I used my rye starter, which is one that I got from wildyeastblog.com. Susan, the author, calls to transform the formula into a white starter after it becomes reliable, I have kept mine as a rye starter with great results).
Black oil cured olives I only had about 1 cup, I would aim for 3 next time
As I write this, my bread is crackling on the counter. As Chad Robertson says, 'the song of bread', they are indeed singing, and so am I.
To the staff of life.
I happily submit this post to wildyeastblog.com's
All formulas and techniques are adapted from Tartine Bread. I urge you to buy the book.