Sunday, July 29, 2012

life is too fast, life is too slow...

we are ornery, selfish, hedonistic beasts, aren't we? we want it, we want it now, we want it all, and we want never to feel anything but bliss.

i've been paring down on these bits, doing my best anyway. i think that if we stop for a moment, quiet ourselves, we soon discover that the sound of our jumbled thoughts really gets in the way of things. this cacophony inhibits us from being present and finding joy, even in the sad little things. if there was no sadness, then we would never be able to understand the value of joy. likewise, with whose measuring stick are you using to quantify your little miseries? just consider for a moment.... yeah. see what i mean?

just be quiet now. still your chattery, self-critical mind. it ain't all so bad. and you really already have all that you need. just breathe and let. it. go.

50% sprouted spelt boule

so, i've been tossing around this thought that rumbled across my head not too long ago: RUSTIC JOY (don't bother, the dot com is already taken). yes, think about it. the whole world is craving it, doubt me and head over to pinterest. have a look-see. all of that architecture using reclaimed this and unearthed that, houses made with wood from stumbled upon outhouses.


we are obsessed with rusticity of late, the world as a whole, really, even the french. yes, the french. i stumbled across a parisian girl's blog post not too long ago, and in it, she was over the moon about having just created a cloche using 'found' sparrow feathers. the real art was in the natural artistry of the bird's plumage rather than the girl's millinery prowess, and it was also likely that the poor bird died an indescribably gruesome death at the mitts of some cat since the pile of feather's was found in what sounded like a paris drain gutter. i was a cheerleader for her little piece of found joy nonetheless. she had hammered together something useful out of a rotten thing. and the craving for such earthy ingenuity is spreading across the net like a great conflagration, hungry to burn out our errant and nugatory ways and set the record straight again.


it seems like droves of us want to swap out our metropolitan landscapes for those more pastoral. we are, many of us, in desperate need of star-strewn skies and the primitive rasp of a cricket's mating call piercing the obsidian night. we want to live in shacks whose floors are paved with dirt. we want to grow things in dirt, manufacture things out of dirt. we are in a tizzy over dirty things. earthy things. the infrastructure of our very lives, after all, has been forged of mineral and clay. we are craving a return to the beginning.

it's all just too much, this world. spinning too fast. crammed too tightly. shouting too loud. and it's far too pretty in a really contrived way. this world. we have laminated it with so much sparkle and shimmer that we are all just hankering for a dirtier brand of joy, one that still has the bran on it, one with a natural bit of chew. we've all had our experiences masticated for us for far too long. and there is promise that this great resurgence to return to our roots could connect us to our higher power, our impetus, and give some greater meaning to the breath that we have been gifted. i can think of no greater way to evolve than to remove those unnecessary parts of ourselves and lay ourselves bare. for it is when we lie unmasked that the truth of our paths are revealed.


alas, we are human, and a year of all that dirty, earthy, hippie living will have us showering and grumbling that it's all just moving too slowly. finicky, we.

speaking of bran and chewing through a more substantial life, my bread today is made of 50% sprouted spelt. and i probably shouldn't put this in print, but my neighbor pirouetted across the courtyard this morning to tell me that she had eaten it for supper with her beau and pronounced it 'orgasmic' with the first bite. such a word for this rustic bread.

of course, anyone who describes my bread so lasciviously gets immediately added to the list of recipients who can have a half-loaf at week's end.

have a look.

50% sprouted spelt bread.

i used sprouted spelt from to your health in this formula, a miller that mills their sprouted flours to order. the flavor is beyond compare, as you can imagine. and just so you know, i have been feeding my starters with their sprouted flours, and they are rising at least 25% more than when i use other non-sprouted flours. i seriously recommend using sprouted flours for your health, though they do cost a kings' ransom.

this formula will make one 70% hydration loaf with amazingly evolved, earthy/nutty flavors and a definitive tang, but not overly-so. if you prefer a loaf with less acidity, cut the final proof to 4 hours, refrigerated.

FOR THE LEVAIN, THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BAKE

50g sprouted spelt starter
157g h2o
157g sprouted spelt flour

mix the above t make a paste. ferment overnight, covered, in a bowl.

BAKE DAY

364g levain
350g h2o
250g sprouted spelt flour
250g KA organic bread flour
13g salt

dissolve the levain with the water. mix in the flours. make a cohesive mass (this is an easy to manage loaf), cover and autolyse for 40 minutes. after the autolyse, squish the salt into the dough with your fingers.

4 HOUR BULK FERMENT

for the first two hours of the bulk ferment, perform a series of turns every half hour like this: scoop your hand under the dough mass, pull the bottom over the top, spin the bowl, repeat, then repeat once more. you will do this 4 times in two hours.

for the final two hours of the bulk ferment, pop the dough in the fridge and let it do its thing.


BENCH. SHAPE. PROOF

after the bulk ferment, carefully scrape the dough onto a counter lightly sprinkled with organic brown rice flour. form a loose round. rest on the bench for 15 minutes.

after the rest, shape into a tight boule. sprinkle a linen with rice flour (liberally - ain't nothing like doing all that work to find your dough sticking to a linen that has not been dusted amply), line a bowl with such, pop the dough, smooth side down into the linen. pop in the fridge to proof for at least 4 hours, and up to... let's see, mine proofed overnight for 8 hours an 45 minutes.

BAKE

one hour before you plan to bake, get a combo cooker into the oven fitted with a baking stone on the middle shelf. preheat to 550 degrees.

pull the dough from the fridge, fit a piece of parchment over the bowl, place a peel on top of the parchmented bowl and invert the bowl.

remove the linen. score (i'm still trying to come up with a signature score for this bread). slide the boule into the shallow end of the combo cooker, parchment and all. cover with the fatty end, slide into the oven, turn down to 475 degrees and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

after 30 minutes, remove the cover, spin the pan 180 degrees for even baking, turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake till chestnut brown. mine took another 30 minutes exactly.


verdict:
crust: good shattery crust, amazingly so. flavor: nutty, earthy flavor. mid-acidity, not too powerful though. crumb structure: lovely, lovely crumb. light, moist, fully gelatinized. the perfect texture.

to the staff of life!

shared with sister susan over at wild yeast blog.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

seigle d'auvergne

seigle means rye. d'auvergne means 'of auvergne', or, the auvergne region of france known for its, well, rye bread and cheeses. seigle (pronounced seg, with a very short 'l' that lives as a whisper on the sides of the tongue. so, say 'seg(whisper)l'.


my seigle turned out as well as i had imagined it would. auspicious crackling, very (uber!) moist crumb that will probably keep for the duration of my enjoyment of it. as well we all know, rye breads can last for quite a while.

i used daniel leader's 'classic auvergne dark rye' as a template for this seigle (page 158 of 'local breads'), but i modified the formula quite a bit in terms of hydration, fermentation times, and fermentation method, and type of flour. i used dark rye, i believe his formula calls for light.


the crust was nice and crisp when it came out of the oven. i waited until the next day to slice it, and the crust was as tender as the crumb.

i realized today that this seigle is a window that peeks into my preferences. i'm a product of two hippie parents. we were a farm-to-table family, drawing our nourishment from a very large, urban garden in our back yard. while our neighbors barbecued, our vegetarian family harvested okra and shelling beans. alice waters thinks she began the farm to table movement in america, but i think it was my father. well, at least in my life he did.


we thought he was a crazy old man back then, my father, with his compost pile and a tiller that looked like it belonged to a weathered farmer with sod-caked hands. what he was was an urban farmer with high ideals about what his family should eat.

he orchestrated the planting of our plot and the rest of us, we carried out his vision, one that, of course, at the time i did not appreciate and could not know would be the foundation of how i would think about food when i got older. now, in my adult years, when my friends grapple with weight and urges for fast food, i get hankerings for dandelion greens with a little lemon and olive oil. it is now that i thank my father for honing a natural inclination toward the earth and its flavors. he is gone now, but his vision lives on in me.


seigle. i began this earthy loaf with a 75% hydration starter that i made from the 100% hydration, 100% rye starter that i keep, the mother of all my breads. i have a deep, deep respect for her. she has fed me well, and provides weekly miracles that astound me even still, this one and a quarter years after i first began exploring my bread path with her.


this seigle will happily pair with one of the auvergne-produced cheeses - bleu d'auvergne, salers, fourme d'ambert, saint nectaire, cantal...

saint nectaire is known as 'the rye cheese', since it is aged in rye straw. how much more romantic can one get than that? this is the orchestra of eating that i strive for - this earthy bread, the harmony of a cheese that was borne to wed with it, and perhaps a ripe tomato and a fistful of greens.

i had a ploughman's lunch today with my seigle, a bit of bleu d'auvergne, saint nectaire, some avocado, red onion, cucumbers and the  ripest, sweetest tomato a girl could hope for. (BTW, we grew the best tomatoes in our urban garden, and my mother would can them for the winter months to come. i was a lucky kid. hindsight, you know...).

life is good. but it's so much better with bread that you bake with your very own hands. thank you for meeting me here at the page once again. enjoy your seigle d'auvergne, and please let me know how yours turns out for you!


seigle d'auvergne


the night before the bake

make your levain by mixing the following:

45g 75% hydration 100% rye starter
50g h2o
50g organic dark rye flour, i used BRM

cover and let ferment overnight (mine fermented for 12 hours).

(*to make your 100% hydrated starter into one that is 75% do the following: in the morning of the day before you plan to make the levain, scoop out 36g of starter, add to a jar with 36g of dark rye flour and 27g water. mix and feed once again in the evening. the next day it will be ready to use for your levain).

bake day!

500g organice dark rye flour, i used BRM
200g strong bread flour, i used KA
550g h2o
125g levain
20g salt

in the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the levain in 450g of the h2o, add the rye flour and mix until a smooth, thick, cohesive dough forms.

hey, you know i'm a purest and prefer to make all of my bread by hand, but a dough with such a high percentage of rye will make you grateful that you have a stand mixer. the dough is far too sticky to knead by hand. trust me.

let this autolyse for an hour and 20 minutes.

dissolving the levain, mixing with the seigle flour

the levain, water, and seigle flour amply amalgamated, ready for autolyse

after autolyse

 after autolyse, up close

after the autolyse, add the remaining 100g h2o, the bread flour and salt. machine knead for 9 minutes on the low setting of your mixer using the dough hook attachment (don't use the paddle, even though it might seem like a good idea), scraping down the sides every minute to ensure that all of the flour and water is incorporated.


the dough will be thick and smooth, more like a batter

scrape the sides of the bowl, cover with a plate or a sheet of plastic wrap, or whatever, and begin the 2 hour 40 minute bulk fermentation.

the dough, ready for bulk fermentation

 pre-ferment, up close

 the dough, fully fermented, 2 hours 40 minutes at moderate room temp (73 degrees or so)


after the 2 hour 40 minute bulk fermentation, pour the dough onto a floured bench and rest 10 minutes.

fermented dough on the bench 

the best you can, and don't get frustrated, this is a very sticky dough, and you will not be able to make a perfect boule, shape into a quasi-boule, and plop this (with all your apprehensions in place) into a bowl lined with a linen that has been VERY well dusted with organic brown rice flour. your fingers will be coated with this dough. you will think that you did something wrong, you will want to pitch it, but here's the thing: you did everything right. it is supposed to be sticky with no apparent gluten formation.

pop this into the fridge and proof for an hour and 50 minutes.

your boule, it's gonna look crazy, embrace it!

crazy 'boule' - fully proofed boule

okay, you can get excited after you unveil your proofing dough because it will look like the one above...

after 1 hour 50 minutes (45 minutes before bake time, you should have preheated your oven to 550 degrees with a baking stone in place, and a combo cooker heating up to smoking hot along with it), place a piece of parchment over the boule/bowl, place a peel over the parchment and swiftly invert.

remove the bowl and linen to reveal your beauty.

unveiled 

slide the boule, still on the parchment, into the shallow end of your piping hot combo cooker and pop the deep half of the combo cooker on top. slide it into the oven, turn it down to 500 degrees...

 the boule in the shallow part of the combo cooker

bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. after 30 minutes, remove the lid...

a properly steamed seigle 


turn the oven down to 475, bake for another 13 minutes or so. then turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake till adequately browned. mine baked for another another 17 minutes for a total bake time of 1 hour. of course, cool on a wire rack.

 the seigle is done

it is best to slice high-proportion ryes the next day. the crust, after it comes out of the oven, should be crisp, and the next day it will be velvet-soft. the crumb should be moist, compact, and homogeneous but light, not heavy or gummy.


the headshots





to the staff of life!


this post has been sent over to wild yeast blog's yeast spotting.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

(Rustic) Divine Manifestation Slippers

some people dream of escaping to a deserted island and lolling about under the sun. of course, in these dreams, skin cancer does not exist. some people dream of owning fast red cars and private jets. of course, head on collisions and spiraling out of the sky in a twisted, fiery wreck is not part of the equation.

(rustic) divine manifestation slippers, in porcini-gruyere 


i dream of holing myself up in a simple stone cottage in some nameless locale with my dog and wireless internet access. in the back of the cottage i have an enormous garden plugged with heirloom stuff that you've never even heard of. i also have heirloom goats, dwarf, because they take up less space. they donate superfluous amounts of prize-winning milk that i make into cheese which people describe as 'holy', and 'a godsend'. and i age my godsend cheese in a cellar that is also filled with wine from vintages before my mother's mother was even a twinkle in her mother's eye. none of which is corked or spoiled, in fact, it goes splendidly with my profusion of heirloom things, my holy goat cheese, and the bread that i bake in the mornings when the mist still tangos in my fields, fat with grains that i harvest and mill with my own two hands - well, with my field hand's hands, because separating the wheat from the chaff just sounds like nasty, tedious business, and i don't have time, because i am far too busy working on my pulitzer-bound novel(s).


you have to be precise when dispensing the details of your dreams so that there is no error when the universe helps make them materialize.

speaking of such glorious things, we were talking about dreams today, my sister and i, and manifestations thereof. we talked about the times that we called our dreams fantasies and saw them diminish before they ever had a chance to materialize. we talked about the dreams that we had that became our realities, and how we were both astonished at the ease in which these dreams came into our lives once we put down our negative mindsets. the hardest part, yeah, the hardest part of a dream is when you reduce it to a fantasy, and then you have to live there in that void. fantasy, see, is the opposite of a dream. a fantasy doesn't feed you, it makes you small. it doesn't give you hope or make you feel light, it makes you feel weak and heavy and dull. ah, but a dream is your spirit reminding you that you can, and that you SHOULD, and further, that you should not be afraid to want it, to ask for it, to coax it into reality with your trust in the universe, and better yet, yourself. a dream is not a frightening thing. it is your spirit guide and your protector all in one. a dream is a reminder of the divinity in you.


isn't it funny, some of us, we call them dreams when we should see them as goals. who says i can't have goats or hands to milk them? who says that i can't have prize-winning books or cheeses or heirloom things to share with friends while i am here helping to people this planet?

divine manifestation is not a fantasy. but it does start with something that looks like a dream. and a dream is really the visualization of our heart's desires. our heart's desires are places that we want to go and people who we want to be. and these people who we want to be, you know, we already are. of course we are. why else do you think they come to us in a dream? it's our subconscious trying to remind us of who we are inside, this person, wriggling her way to the surface. and even more than that, a dream is the comforting assurance that if we have strayed from that person inside, we also have the power to reclaim this divine self. all you have to do is 1) take 3 deep breaths 2) visualize it. it's really that simple. so do it. now.


divine manifestation. call it what you will. call it a dream. just dare to call it something. because when you remove the hindrances (you), there is no end to what you can have or do, or who you can be. you just have to give yourself permission first to accept it. and why shouldn't you? it is, in fact, not fantasy, it is indeed very real, inside of you. your dream of the highest you is your birthright.


today i dreamed up these rustic 'slippers' filled with porcini mushrooms (that miraculously spring up under the tallest trees in my forest, just beyond my heirloom crops), and gruyere cheese (made from my cows' divine milk only second to my holy goats'). and i must say, when this dream came to fruition, it was everything that i hoped it would be. but then, why wouldn't it be? this is no fantasy bread. this bread was here inside me all along.

have a look.


divine manifestation slippers, in porcini-gruyere 


for the levain:
60g all dark rye 75% starter
100g h2o
50g bob's red mill a/p
50g to your health sprouted white wheat

for the mushrooms:
50g dried porcini
725g h2o

for the dough:
- all of the mushroom water (*press the water out of the mushrooms through a fine sieve. i ended up with 654g) plus enough water so that the total volume of liquid is 728g
- all of the levain
- 825g brm a/p
- 210g tyh sprouted white wheat
- 22g plus 7g salt to salt the mushrooms
- 15g olive oil
- 250g cave aged, raw milk gruyere, roughly hewn

the night before:

1. make the levain: mix together the starter, the 100g of h2o, the 50g each a/p and sprouted white wheat. cover tightly, and let it ferment overnight.

2. for the mushrooms: boil 725g h2o, pour over the dried porcini. cover at room temp, then refrigerate overnight.


fully matured levain 


bake day:

1. dissolve the levain in the 728g mushroom water

dissolving the levain in the mushroom liquor 

2. add the flours and mix into a shaggy dough. autolyse for 1 hour.

starting autolyse 

3. meanwhile, chop your mushrooms and salt with 7g of salt. set aside.

chopped porcini 

4. after autolyse, add the olive oil, the mushrooms and the remaining 22g of salt to the dough. squish all the ingredients together until a cohesive dough forms.

5. perform a series of turns every half hour for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation. add the cheese during the first turn, then refrigerate for the last 2 hours of the 4-hour bulk fermentation.

a mock 4-hour bulk fermentation schedule might look like this:

noon - 1:00 pm - autolyse
1:00 pm - add salt, olive oil and mushrooms
1:30 pm - 1st turn (add cheese)
2:00 pm - 2nd turn
2:30 pm - 3rd turn
3:00 pm - final turn
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm - refrigerated bulk fermentation

cubed, raw milk, cave-aged gruyere

after the last turn, just before cold fermentation 

after 2-hour cold fermentation 

6. after the 4 hour bulk fermentation, pour the dough out onto the counter and divide.

turned out onto the bench 

loosely shaped dough resting on the bench 

7. loosely shape the dough into rounds. bench rest for 15 minutes.

a new, rustic shape. almost like ciabatta, or 'slippers'

the slippers, up close

8. gently stretch the dough into rustic slippers on a couche lined with parchment. dust with organic brown rice flour, cover with plastic and a towel. refrigerate for a 3 hour proof.

open, very tender crumb with great mushroom flavor

9. one hour before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a large baking stone in place, and a cast iron pan on the bottom of the oven.

10. slide the dough right onto the hot stone. fill a cup measure to the rim with ice, then fill with water. dump this onto the hot cast iron pan and shut the door immediately. this will steam the slippers.

11. bake the slippers with steam for 15 minutes, then without until the crusts are golden brown. be sure to rotate the parchment after the steam to ensure an even bake.

the crumb of these slippers is sooooo tender! super flavorful. i tried to keep the cheese in the center of the slippers so it would not ooze out, but the small bit that did was crispy and delicious. the crust of this bread is soft, not shattery. overall a lovely bread that i will happily bake again. perhaps with different rustic shapes... but then i can't call them slippers.

to the staff of life!


this post is going to wild yeast blog's yeast spotting. cheers!

"if you just believe, maybe your life will change....it's time you started looking ahead!"

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