Thursday, October 18, 2012

the fruits of our labors

my biggest complaint about artisan bakers is that there is not enough fruit or nuts in their fruit nut breads. but given the expense, i understand their moderate hand. i don't know why i'm bellyaching about it now. i've not purchased so much as a single slice of bread since i started this blog a year and sevenish months ago.

luxury bread

today i'm posting one of my absolute favorite loaves with you. i call her my luxury bread, because she's the most ambrosial loaf in my repertoire and the only one that i anthropomorphize. while i love all my breads dearly, she's got to be the queen of the bunch. and when i occasion to bake her up, i feel like nothing on earth could be better than the moment i sink my teeth into a slice (ok, maybe i shouldn't anthropomorphize). i defy you to disagree.

here's the scoop. you will need two types of nut and four different varieties of dried fruit. not. negotiable. if you try to cut corners, well, then you ain't makin' luxury bread.

you might have noticed that this venture won't be cheap, what with 250g of the fruit, and another 150g of nuts - pecan and wal. yeah. but if you get your goods from trader joes, you will have plenty leftover from the first go round to knead up a few more loaves.. if you can keep yourself from snacking on your stash. i never can.

bench & shape

a few caveats with this loaf: doing the turns is impossible. no, not difficult, impossible. the dough is SOLID, and when you (try to) do them (because yeah, you still have to), you will think you've gone mad, (or i've gone mad for conjuring up this beast, royalty that she is) but by golly, we must forge on with that what is most challenging in order to feel deserved of the fruits of our labors.

after you've given up on your turns (they get harder from the start), trying to shape the bread will drive you bonkers because you have to keep as much of the 400g of fruits and nuts inside the dough as you can so that you don't end up with a surplus of burned goodies on the crust after its gone through a pretty long bake. but you can do it. and after you've had your first bite, you will forget about the pain that you endured and revel in the sheer luxury of it. see, luxury bread.

forget about pannetone for christmas, this is what you should be baking for people this year. it's pure luxury... so you should eat it all the time.




make your levain:

37g 100% rye, 100% hydration starter
50g h2o
50g organic dark rye flour, i used BRM dark rye

mix it all up, ferment for 7.5 hours


137g levain
310g KA organic A/P
100g KA organic bread flour
90g BRM organic dark rye flour
330g h2o
62.5g each: golden raisins, thompsons raisins, dried cherries, apricots (chopped)
75g pecans
75g walnuts
10g salt

first things first, toast the nuts. put the fruit in a glass measure and fill with boiling hot water. steep 30 minutes, then drain. set all this aside.

mix the levain with the water and the flours until you reach a shaggy mass. autolyse for 1 hour.

after the dough has gone through full autolyse, squish the salt in into the dough with your fingers, then dump the COOLED nuts and fruit in and fold it into the dough. i know, i know, it's going to seem like too much. it's not. ready for bulk fermentation.


for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, perform a series of turns every half hour. i know, it's nutty (literally), and its going to be impossible. just do the best you can. that's all anyone can ask of you in life.

before bulk fermentation

for the last two hours of the bulk fermentation, pop the dough into the fridge and let it do its thing, unmolested.

after bulk fermentation


after the bulk fermentation, dust your workspace with brown rice flour and scrape the dough over it. sort o' gather it into a loose boule and let it rest for 10 minutes.

after its rested for 10 minutes, shape the dough into a firm boule, making sure that you tuck in any fruit or nut pieces that poke through. i mean, some stick-outs you can't avoid. just do the best you can or they will burn during the bake.

pop this dough into a linen-lined bowl that's been dusted with organic brown rice flour and pop it into the fridge for a 15-hour proof.

you should always be covering your dough, yeah, all the way from levain through proof. i usually just use a plate. you don't have to get crazy with the plastic wrap.


time to bake your queen!

preheat the oven to 550 degrees, outfitted with a baking stone and both pieces of your combo cooker for a full hour.

just before you are ready to bake, pull the dough out of the fridge, score it, slide it into the shallow end of the combo cooker, cover with the fatty part, and steam for 30 minutes at 475 degrees.

after the steam, remove the lid of the combo cooker, lower the heat to 450 (DON'T bake at a higher temp. this loaf takes longer to bake than other loaves, and you will end up with a black bottom if you crank the heat. i think my loaf took.... mmm... 1 hour and 10 minutes or so?) bake until the crust is a chestnut brown, and be sure to turn it for the last 20 minutes of the bake so one side doesn't get darker than the rest. and do try to wait a full hour before tearing into it. it'll be hard, i know...

OH, and, uh, you can double your luxury by increasing your ingredients by two, from levain all the way down to the salt.

to the staff of life!


this post was shared on wild yeast blog's yeast spotting.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

to flog a dead horse

yes. yes i know. my last post involved olive bread. but just hear me out, because i know you're a tough crowd. my last loaf was a spelt olive bread, and it didn't have olive oil, yeah. this is a rye olive loaf and it has a whopping two tabes of olive oil, so technically it's not the same (smarty pants).

listen, before you judge me for being monotonous and just plain dull, just know that i wasn't even going to post this loaf. my last olive was so good i just wanted to make another, you know, to have around, because olive bread is da bomb. but, see, here's the thing, as soon as i had my first slice (i couldn't even wait a whole hour to let it cool, the aroma was that heady) the first thing i thought was oh, yeah, i need to pass this along.

dude. you sort of need this formula. it is, to date, the absolute best olive bread that i have ever made (or eaten. ever.), and i want it to be the best olive bread that YOU have ever made too.

see? share. i like sharing, especially the most fabulous things, because then i'm not the only one who's happy, you're happy too. and isn't the world so much sweeter when we are all happy, or at least striving to be?

here's the verdict:

CRUMB: the crumb of this loaf was ineffable. it was tender, like butter or a baby's backside, or something like that. CRUST: and the crust was so shattery and ethereal that it was like eating glass. ok, maybe not that deleterious, but you get what i'm saying. FLAVOR: the flavor was rich, so rich, and olivey to the tenth power.

i'm telling you, if this does not make it to your top ten then you are a tough crowd, because frankly, it has succeeded in crowning mine.

the best olive bread in the whole wide world

* just a note on rye flours. in this formula, i use 'to your health' rye flour here, which is incredibly thirsty, astonishingly so, actually. if you don't have 'to your health' flour, and decide to use another flour, say, bob's red mill dark rye, then you will have to adjust the hydration accordingly or you are going to end up with an overly hydrated dough. i would, for instance, if using bobs red mill dark rye, begin with about 325g of h2o for the dough. 375g will likely be way too high.

please notice the difference between the 'thirst quality' of to your health sprouted rye flour and bobs red mill, exhibited here in these two levains. the top photo is one of a levain using the same ratio of rye flour, starter and h2o and uses to your health sprouted rye flour as the bottom photo, which bob's red mill rye flour. they were both fermented for 8 hours. as you can see, 'to your health' makes a pretty stalwart mass of levain, even after full fermentation compared to the bob's red mill.

so again, adjust your hydration to account for this. i am aware that 'to your health' is rather obscure, and you probably cannot get it in other countries. given my experience, i would suggest starting with 325g of h2o if using bob's red mill (or another brand), adding small measures more until you reach proper hydration if necessary.

 to your health 100% hydration starter, fermented for 8 hours, notice how stiff it is

 bob's red mill 100% hydration starter, fermented for 8 hours, notice how loose it is, compared to the one above

now, onto the formula!


135g rye levain (formula following)
90g sprouted TYH rye flour
100g KA bread flour
310g KA A/P
375g h2o
190g pitted kalamata olives, drained well
90g pitted black oil cured olives
2 TB good, fruity olive oil
8g salt


make a levain:

35g 100% whole rye, 100% hydration starter
50g TYH sprouted rye
50g h2o

mix this together, cover, and ferment for about 8 hours, but please determine the health and viability of your levain using your own discretion. mine fermented in 6.5 hours, but yours may need more time than that. this is one of those areas of bread making where if you manage your powers of perception skillfully, you will make consistently lovely loaves of bread. if you over or under ferment your levain, your dough will be imbalanced.


dissolve the levain in the 375g water, mix in the rye, A/P, and bread flours until you reach a shaggy mass. autolyse for 1 hour.

after autolyse, squish the salt into the dough, and when you're done squishing, squish the olives and the olive oil into the dough as well.


for the first two hours you will perform a series of turns every half hour (for a total of four series), this is accomplished at room temperature. after the series of turns, pop the dough into the fridge and ferment for another 2 hours.


after the dough has sufficiently fermented, turn out onto a work table that has been dusted with brown rice flour, cover with a bowl, and let it rest for 30 minutes. after the rest, shape the dough into a boule, dust a linen with brown rice flour, line a bowl with it, then in goes the dough. cover and refrigerate for 15 hours.


one full hour before bake time, get a bread stone and both parts of your combo cooker into the oven. preheat to 550.

after the preheat, pull the dough out of the fridge, cut a square of parchment and place it over the mouth of the bowl; now place a peel atop this and flip the peel and the bowl over in one deft movement. remove the bowl and the linen.

score your beauty and slide it into the shallow end of the combo cooker. pop the fatty end of the combo cooker on top, slide it all into the oven. turn the blasted thing down to 475 degrees and steam the loaf for 30 minutes.

after the steam, remove the fatty end of the combo cooker, slide the boule back into the oven and finish baking. mine took exactly 30 more minutes.

try to cool for at least an hour, but i tore into mine after 45 minutes.

to the staff of life!

(ps, you don't even have to wonder if i ate the olives off of the side of the bread while waiting for it to cool, 'cause you know i did.)


this post was shared on wild yeast blog's yeast spotting.


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