Saturday, April 13, 2013

it's just bread

i mean, it is just bread, right? so, it was a lazy sunday to be (it was friday when i decided this), i could feel it in my bones. and as a virgo, i planned for my laze by making a levain the night before the laziness really set in (you have no idea, my bones have a way of turning to jelly, and when this happens, oh man, nothing gets done but reading and stuffing my face. some people call it depression, i call it comfort zone).

many loaves that come out of my kitchen are just straight up plain, right, which is why i don't post very often. i'm baking, perhaps not posting, and i decided to post this here because i wanted to just say this, that it's just bread, okay. it's really no big deal. you've opened the cupboard, a farine reconnoiter of sorts, you saw what you had, right, maybe A/P, maybe bread flour, maybe a handful of each, and then that bit of rye that you've been meaning to deal with, because it's just sitting there putting all kinds of pressure on you.

all i had was A/P this weekend. and i was not about to go to the store. it's the nun in me. i'm not going to waste a handful of flour because there are starving people, like, everywhere, and just because i can run out and get something crazy (i can't, really), like, i don't know what, teff flour or something like that, so that i can pretend like i'm over here in some sort of lab, conjuring up all kinds of cool stuff because that's just my life, doesn't mean i'm going to. it's simple: i check the freezer - yeah, the freezer; i slice my bread and stick it in there, frugality, see, and when i'm hungry, i pry a couple of slices from the frozen block, slide it under the broiler, and there, i've got lunch - if the goods are running lean eh bien, it's time to make bread.

a boule with no name (is still a boule)

you don't have to make this some extravagant venture every time. you can (i'm serious) just sort of bake loaves if you're bored, or hungry, or you're too poor to buy someone a real birthday present. i think this batch of bread will cost you like 12¢ out the door, so you're either a cheapskate or seriously talented. whatever the case, you're terribly sophisticated to think up a loaf of bread instead of presenting your friend with a store bought piece of crap, because, yeah, that takes so much ingenuity. time is money baby, so loaves of bread baked for friends are equivalent to, say, tiffany rings with diamonds, lots of diamonds.

sometimes i think of all these ideas of things i should bake, but i never do because i'm part nun and totally broke, and all i have today (most days) is A/P or a few grams of bread flour and rye. always rye. if i don't have rye, my world stops, the world stops. so today i baked up the last of some A/P, and instead of just eating it, i snapped a few pix and decided to jot down the 'formula', if you can even call it that.

here you go. the formula below makes two loaves, i made this double batch and then another demi-batch. in the case of a demi-batch, just cut all of your measurements in half from levain down to the salt.


make your levain:

100g starter
200g dark rye flour, i used 'to your health'
200g h2o

mix this together to make a paste and ferment. mine took 8 or 9 hours.


make the dough:

500g levain
700g h2o
1000g KA A/P flour
25g kosher salt

mix together the levain, the flours and water until it reaches a shaggy mass. autolyse for 1 full hour. after autolyse, squish the salt into the dough with your hands.

begin the bulk fermentation. for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, you will perform a series of turns every half hour at room temp. for the last two hours, pop the dough in the fridge and allow it to ferment, untouched.

after the bulk fermentation is complete, turn the dough out onto a counter dusted with brown rice flour, gather it up into a loose round and let it rest for 10 minutes. after it has rested, shape it into a boule.

pop this into a bowl lined with a linen that has been dusted with brown rice flour, pop in the fridge and ferment for 25 hours.


one hour before you bake, preheat the oven to 550 degrees. make sure your stone and both halves of the combo cooker are in there too.

after a FULL HOUR (i'm serious), unearth the dough onto a peel lined with a piece of parchment, score the dough in some lovely pattern, then slide it into the shallow half of the combo cooker.

pop on the top half and turn the oven down to 475 degrees. steam for 30 minutes. after the steam, remove the top half of the combo cooker using an oven mitt to avoid a nasty steam burn. turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake until the chestnut-colored.

verdict: it's just bread. and it's FANTASTIC.

to the staff of life!

this post has been exhibited on Susan's wild yeast blog. thank you susan, for giving us a platform to share our bread!



  1. The best nothing special loaves i've ever seen! I need to take more time with my cuts. Looks like you went over those a couple of times, with spectacular results.

  2. yes. SCORE DEEPLY. i always go over my slashes twice if i did not slash deep enough the first time. my little secret ;)

  3. what do you look for to figure out if you have proofed enough (or overproofed) during the retardation? these loaves look really awesome.

  4. its overproofed if it looks or feels loose/flaccid and gassy and 'oozes' instead of holding shape. when its perfectly proofed, it holds a high dome, it springs back when you poke it, and looks lively/perky. when it has underproofed, it looks a little sleepy, really, the dough is still more of a solid mass, it does not spring back readily when poked, its small, and doesn't look alive or energized. hope this helps!



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