Four Pizzas and a Cookie!

It seems like a short hop, skip and jump – going from bread to pizza. After all, dough is dough. And that’s exactly what Forkish did to finish out his book. He provides instruction on how to develop four different types of pizza dough.  So during the holidays, I decided to have a pizza bake-off dinner and see which pizza dough my family liked the best!

To save us all the details, I’ll simply say that the four types were:  a simple same day instant yeast dough; a simple overnight instant yeast dough; an overnight poolish developed with instant yeast which was added the next day to a final dough; and lastly an overnight sourdough levain pizza dough.  I timed the preparation of each dough so that each would be ready to bake at the same time.

I set my pizza stone in the oven about eight inches below the broiler, and set it to ‘550 bake’ to warm up. About half an hour later the stone was very hot. I gave it a quick blast of extra heat by turning the broiler on for a few minutes, and then put in the first pizza. It cooked pretty quickly and was ready in about seven or eight minutes. Just before taking it out of the oven I gave it a quick top sear by putting the broiler back on for a few minutes. By this point the pizza was sizzling and ready. I did the same for the next three pizzas!

How did they taste? Great! We thought it was a good idea to compare them during the same meal. It allowed us to go back and forth to compare the crusts.

The two simpler instant yeast dough’s were less interesting, and by comparison almost seemed bland.  We all agreed that the poolish and sourdough pizza dough’s were the best of the four. But they were different in that the poolish dough crust was a bit sweeter, while the sourdough crust was (of course) less so.  They both had that ‘classic Italian pizza’ flavour. We would make either again without a doubt!  The poolish based dough was probably simpler to make in that I didn’t have to worry about feeding the starter.  Overall, this was a great experience!

Lastly, Forkish includes a cookie recipe at the very end of the book – Oregon Hazelnut Butter Cookies.  I’m decidedly not a ‘sweets baker’, but I am stubborn and I wanted to complete baking my way through to the very end of the book! With a bit of flour, hazelnuts ground into a meal, more butter than I’d like to admit and a bit of sugar I made a batch. They’re nice, not sweet at all, have a nice hazelnut flavour and are a nice way to end a meal. Or as is the case while I’m writing this entry, a nice way to compliment a nice Canadian rye whiskey!


And with that, I’ve officially “been there, and baked that”.  I’ve now baked through 19 different bread recipes, four pizza dough recipes, one Oregon hazelnut inspired cookie recipe, gone through over 20 kilos of flour, a jar of instant active yeast, probably a cup of sea salt and most importantly gave ‘rise to’ Charlie! 🙂

I’ve learned to bake with instant yeast, created my own starter ‘Charlie’ which remains alive and well in the fridge, make amazingly great levain bread, found a new appreciation for rye bread, no longer ‘fear dough’, turned into a discerning bread snob and loved every chubby pound I’ve added to my waistline along the way!

Most importantly I’ve learned the process of making bread in an organic way that has taught me to think through what I’m doing but also read the dough and let it tell me when it’s time to move along to the next step. Yet at the same, I have learned how to manage the process so that I could bake when it best suited my schedule.


On a final note, as I look at my bread bookshelf I appreciate that I’m fortunate to own some amazing bread books. But I was recently challenged by a friend to bake some bread without a recipe. When I read his “dare” in a message, I was both excited and terrified at the same time. And then it struck me – following a recipe is easy (I’ve just proven that), baking with only your senses to guide you is what will make me a real bread baker.  As I think about it, I don’t once remember my mother or grandmother using a recipe when baking bread when I was a child! So I’m up for the challenge.

And with that, my blogging days are now over – it’s been fun!  For those of you that have watched, read and shared this journey with me – thank you for thumbing a ride along the way.  I’ve enjoyed the companionship!

Bake happy…



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bread#19 – white flour warm-spot levain

All good things come to an end… …this post represents the last bread bake outlined in Ken Forkish’s artisan bread book  – Flour Water Salt & Yeast.  And as I’m finishing a glass of Rose Moet & Chandon champagne (it was my better-half’s birthday today) while nibbling on warm oven roasted chestnuts on a cool & dark Toronto night, I’m reflecting on the 19 types of breads I’ve baked throughout this journey. Cheers to Ken Forkish for writing a great book that’s taught me much, expanded my waistline and reignited my love of baking bread! Cheers…

This week, Forkish’s bread bake recipe was inspired by his visit to a California bakery that used a stiff white levain held in a very warm spot of the bakery. As I began the bake, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or why I was developing a ‘stiff white levain’.  After I took my first bite, it all made sense. It was like a tsunami of “aha” moments cascading into one another and the progression of breads I’ve baked from the book found a new context. Here’s the story of this week’s bake…

On Friday morning I fed the levain with less water than normal. Typically, a levain feed would consist of one part levain, two parts fresh flour and two parts water – or 1:2:2. This feed was more like 1:5:3 – more flour and less water to create a stiffer mix. It was then fed again around 6pm in the same ratio.

This week however, I had to find a very warm spot in the house for it to rest and develop. I needed to find an ambient temperature of near 85 degrees where I’d leave the levain between feedings. I was able to find such a spot above my hot water heater. I propped up my bowl of levain and took a read of the air temperature measurement with my instant read thermometer – it was just over 80 degrees.  After each subsequent feed, the levain was covered and returned to this warm spot. Between feeds the volume would at least double, the aroma would be very pungent and the levain would be very bubbly creating a thick web type structure, visible when mixed.

Saturday morning I fed it a third time. This feeding would build the final levain weight to 425 grams – the amount needed for the final dough. This last levain feed would develop over the morning into the afternoon, and be ready for the final dough by around 2:30pm.

As discussed in previous posts, the book calls for large levain builds with much wasted flour. Over the past many bakes I have been working backwards from the amount of levain required for the final dough and have modified the scheduled levain feed amounts to end up with only the amount of levain needed for the final dough. Doing so avoided my having to throw out excess unused levain.  As an example, I began this levain build on Friday morning with only 5 grams of starter from my fridge and didn’t have to throw out any levain throughout the feeding schedule as I built it up to the final levain weight of 425 grams.

By mid afternoon  on Saturday the full 425 grams of levain was ready to be used. This time it actually seemed a bit runnier and less thick than I had experienced during the earlier feedings. Either I waited a bit too long, or  the ‘warm spot’ became a bit warmer than it should have been as the day progressed.

At this point – around 3pm – I mixed 750 grams of white flour and 605 grams of 80 degree water together and set it aside for about 20 minutes. I measured out 20 grams of salt and about a quarter teaspoon of instant dry yeast. I mixed the flour, water, salt, yeast and levain together. Several stretch and folds later, and I set the tub aside. Over the next hour I stretched and folded the dough a few more times and then left it covered on the counter top.

By about 7:30pm the dough had doubled. I shaped it into two equal boules, placed each in a well floured basket and covered them before placing them into the fridge for the overnight bulk fermentation.

Early the next morning I baked the boules at 475 degrees for 30 minutes with the lid on, and about 24 minutes with the lid off.


While the bread baked, it had a very subtle aroma. Some of the bakes filled the house with the sent of freshly baking bread. This bread had a much more delicate aroma.  The crust was nicely crisp from the bake and “crackled” for a long while as it cooled ounce out of the oven as it cooled. I set it aside for Sunday night dinner as I’ve tried not to cut open loaves for at least five or six hours after having been baked.

The crust was nicely chewy, flavourful and sweeter than many of the other breads baked in the book.  The crumb was nicely moist. It had only the slightest of sour-dough smells or taste to it. And on first bit, you could tell this bread was very different. It was truly an “oh wow” experience biting into the crumb. It was every bit as interesting and complex as I would expect a sour-dough bread to be, and yet was dominated by a very subtle but pervasive buttery and milkiness to it’s flavour.  This bread instantly became one of my favourites baked from the book. It succeeds on every element I would hope for from a bread.

Over the past two days I’ve been tasting the bread to see how it’s flavour has changed with time. Admittedly, it’s a bit less moist as it’s been drying out, but the flavours are evolving nicely and giving it an even more robust and balanced milkiness throughout the crumb.  I’m sure I’ll be making this bread time and again in the future.

What struck me immediately upon tasking the bread, is how much the feeding schedule and ambient temperature of the levain could change the entire flavour profile of an otherwise similar bread bake. In the book, Forkish talks about “making your own breads” by altering types of flours used, the amount of yeast or levain involved, adjusting the length of bulk fermentation, bulk fermenting at room temperature or in a fridge, etc.  In this week’s bake, as well as last week’s, he’s made a different point – of how you can significantly change the character of your bread by how you develop the flavour of your starter or leavin itself.  This week’s bread was by far the ‘sweetest” baked from the book – meaning the levain had much more lactic (think milky type sweetness) acid tones to the flavour.  By having a stiffer levain (ie: less hydration when feeding) and storing it in a warmer location (above 80 degrees versus room temperature at about 70 degrees), the environment within the levain was ripe for lactic acid build-up over acedic acid build up. Increasing the hydration and lowering temperature, or lengthening the fermentation time would have had the opposite effect and resulted in a more ‘sour’ dough.

And with this entry, I can now say ” I’ve been there, baked that – book!”.  I’ve enjoyed every crummy moment!

The final section of the book now moves from bread  baking to pizza making with four different types of pizza dough’s to try. I’ll have lots to think about as I reflect on this experience.  I’ll finish this blog by trying the four variations on pizza dough and contemplate final reflections of this journey. Until then…



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bread #18 – double-fed sweet levain bread

As I near the end of this journey, I find it bitter-sweet to bake through the final pages of the book. How appropriate then that the next bake is a double-fed sweet levain bread!  I’ve learned much, fought through fear of dough, and gained several pounds along the way!  All for a good cause.  This week’s bake illustrates how to develop a sweeter (or at least less sour) tasting bread when using a natural levain, through more frequent feeding of your starter.  Here is the story of this week’s bake…

I fed the levain Friday morning, Saturday morning around 8:30am I fed it again. By 11:30am it was time for another feeding. This extra feeding was meant to develop an over active yeast population, and thereby reduce the sour flavours that develop when the starter is left to the point that the yeast depletes the fresh flour and water it’s fed, and lactobacillus takes hold. Lactobacillus is a naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria that helps give sour dough bread it’s distinctive ‘sour’ taste.

By about 4pm I mixed 660 grams of white flour, 40 grams of whole wheat four and 540 grams of 90 degree water by hand and let it sit for about thirty minutes to hydrate the flour – autolyse. Once that was done, I added 20 grams of fine sea salt, 2 grams of commercial yeast and 540 grams of the levain that had been developing all day. After a thorough mixing, I let the final dough rest for a while. Within the first two hours I gave the dough several ‘stretch and folds’.

I then left the dough at room temperature until it was about 2 1/2 times it’s original volume – about three hours.  At that point i shaped the dough into two boules and placed them in their baskets. I then covered them and placed them in the fridge overnight for a cold fermentation.

Sunday morning baking was as per previous breads – 30 minutes lids on, 24 minutes lids off – at 475 degrees. I inverted them onto my bread board and scored them before the bake.


Needless to say, they looked so good raw, I was tempted to take a bite! But they did look better baked!

I must admit, the smell of baking bread on Sunday morning is becoming a bit of a ritual. The aroma of bread in the oven while drinking coffee and reading the morning paper is sublime.

As to the bread, it was indeed “less sour” – sweet. The aroma of sour notes in the crumb and crust were dramatically lessened by the extra feeding. The crust had a good and long chew – somewhat chewier than other breads I’ve recently baked, but in a good way. The crumb was very delicate in it’s flavour. Nicely aromatic, buttery, and only a hint of sourness to the taste.

Quite frankly, the truth is that I’ve eaten so much exceptionally good bread through this process that it’s getting difficult to describe in words how good these loaves really tastes. They’re all blurring into one remarkable bread experience.. perhaps having grown up watching Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners, I’m reminded of “how sweet it is”… 🙂


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bread # 17 – pain au bacon

What more can I say? The title says all you need to know. This week, bread met bacon and decadence ensued. It was a wonderful hot mess.   The smell of pan fried bacon filled the house while the starter – charlie – bubbled away  preparing for a yet another triumphant sour-dough loaf!  This is the story of this week’s bake..

All one has to do is look around the web for all sorts of things being added to breads – from olives to cheese, raisins to walnuts. But no other ingredient could stir up more anticipation than bacon!

This week’s bake was made using an overnight levain. After feeding some of charlie the night before, I awoke Saturday and gave it another feeding to ultimately form the levain to be added to the final dough. As a point of semantics, while it’s been debated online endlessly, my approach is to think of charlie – my fridge bound jar of natural wild yeast swimming and feeding off of flour and water – as my starter. Once freshly fed and left to sit at room temperature to facilitate active wild yeast development, I consider it a levain.

I left the starter to develop into the levain for the final bake for about nine hours. Late Saturday afternoon I fried up about 400 grams of beautiful bacon. The aroma filled the entire house and my self control was tested! Once fried, I let the bacon dry off on paper towels and crumbled it into small bits. I’ll admit it, I licked my fingers – and I won’t apologize! Two tablespoons of bacon fat were set aside for the dough.

The final dough called for 864 grams of white flour, 16 grams of whole wheat flour, 684 grams of 90 degree water, 20 grams of fine sea salt, 216 grams of levain, and of course beautiful bacon. After the flours and water were mixed and left to sit and incorporate for about thirty minutes – autolyse – the levain was added and well incorporated into the dough. Then it was time to add the two tablespoons of bacon fat and the crunchy chewy bacon bits. The anticipation was getting to be a bit much! More mixing – stretch and folds – and I set the final dough aside to rest.  Over the next 90 minutes I helped the gluten development with three more bouts of stretch and folds.

At this point the dough should have been placed on a counter top and left to bulk ferment over night. Given my concern with over-fermentation, as I had  been for some of the last loaves, I decided to place the dough into the fridge for a slower cold overnight fermentation.  The goal was to get the dough to tipple in size by the next day.

By Sunday morning the dough had just about doubled. I placed the bowl on the counter-top for a few hours to help speed up the process and by noon I shaped it into two boules, and into the baskets they went. Another hour for proofing and it was into the oven. I baked them dutch-oven stile at 475 degrees for 30 minutes, and another 24 minutes without the lids.

The smell of baking bread with bacon was spectacular! All I could think of was breakfast on Monday morning – toasting up a slice of bacon bread, only to be topped with a fried egg, paired with a cup of fresh brewed coffee. Somehow I knew it would make the world’s problems, splashed all over the morning newspaper, more manageable!


Crust: it had a softer and delicate side to it. Despite baking it with the lid off for 24 minutes in an attempt to create a darker crust, it didn’t work. Cutting through the crust, there definitely was a crunch to it. But not like the earlier breads. I’m suspecting that pure levain bread crusts develop with a bit less ‘char’ or thickness to them than the earlier breads that had some commercial yeast in them have. I’m not sure. The flavour  was nicely developed, influenced by the bacon fat yet was earthy at the same time, and had a rewarding chew. It really was quite good!

Crumb: not very open. The oven spring was less than I had hoped for, but likely due to the bacon fat and the weight of all the bacon in the dough. However, it was delicious and moist. I suspect it seemed more moist than it actually was, given the bacon fat added to the dough. The bacon flavour permeated the entire loaf. The bread tasted great – but I thought an artisanal rustic bacon, rather than commercially processed bacon, would have been a good replacement.

I couldn’t resist.  We opened a loaf while the bread was still warm. It was undeniably great. I even toasted a fresh slice then and there.  And in a moment of gluttony slathered it with salted butter hot out of the toaster – needless to say I felt obligated to pay an extra visit the gym this week!

The next morning was hectic given other plans. So the alarm was set for soon after 6am, and I ‘scrambled’ downstairs to making some eggs!  What a great breakfast bread toasted with eggs on top! Overall it was fantastic.  But I suspect this is going to be one of those “been there, baked that” type of fun experiences, not to be repeated. It all kind of felt, how should I say?  A little piggish! Oink! Oink!

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bread #16 – overnight country brown

This week I can’t decide if I should quote English poet Robert Browning or film actor Burt Lancaster!?  Browning once said “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”.   Lancasater once said “I judge a restaurant by it’s bread and coffee”.  Both have a point. While Browning’s quote might seem a bit dramatic, who am I to judge after ‘looking into the face of country blond’ during last week’s bake!

Truthfully, I’ve actually been living out Lancaster’s quote throughout the period of my ‘bread blogging’ on this site.  At every restaurant I visit, with every bread basket I’m served,  I can’t help myself from examining the bread given.  I carefully break a piece apart, look at the crumb, consider the crust and as discretely as possible give it a good smell just before I take a bite. I’ll chew the crust separately from the crumb. And then thoughtfully the crumb separately from the crust. All the while I’m trying to be engaged in the conversation at hand, while I try to examine the bread unnoticed! I’ll think about the after taste, and the overall experience. I’ll place the rest of the bread on my plate, look at it and just about every time can’t help but think of Julia Child who once said: “How can a nation be great, if it’s bread tastes like Kleenex”!

This week’s bread bake was for ‘overnight country brown’ – the second in a series of pure levain bread dough’s (ie: no commercial yeast is used). I thought this week, after sixteen different bread bakes along this journey I would save us both the detailed description of ingredients and process. And only highly differences from this bread and bread #15 – overnight country blond.

This week’s bread and last weeks’ are very similar with only the flours used changing. The process was identical.  Last weeks’ country blond had 804 grams of white flour, 26 grams of whole wheat and 50 grams of rye flour. This week’s country brown had 604 grams of white flour and 276 grams of whole wheat, with no rye. Otherwise, everything else was the same.

Learning from last weeks’ bake being somewhat over-fermented, I timed this week’s bake so that I only had about 10 hours of overnight fermentation and two hours of proofing. Instead of 15 and almost 4 last week. And even then, the bread could have withstood a slightly shorter overnight fermentation.


The loaves had good oven spring, were very aromatic as they baked and looked great.  I baked the loaves to have a very dark crust – darker than the picture above would lead you to believe.  The loaves stuck to their proofing baskets a little, and required a delicate hand to be released from them before being placed into the oven.  In part that’s why I feel I should reduce the overnight fermentation time the next time I bake this loaf. The crust’s flavour was surprisingly nuttier than I’ve tasted in any other bread baked so far. It had a great chew and a very unique character.  It was not only nuttier, but much more flavorful overall than the crust of any of the other breads baked.

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The pictures above give you a sense of the crumb. It was good.  It too was flavorful, nutty, earthy and wasn’t overly chewy. But the larger bubbles, or holes shown, came from the gluten in the bread breaking down during the over fermentation. The smaller holes in the bread combine as the gluten breaks down to form larger holes – the clearest indication that I should reduce the fermentation period the next time I bake this bread.

I baked this bread on Sunday. Over the last two days this bread’s flavour has continue to develop. I’m not sure why that happens, but it does change over the days following the bake – and for the better. I’d also note that the bread wasn’t as sour as last week’s country blond. I think because last week’s bread fermented far longer than it should have, it developed more sour-dough sour notes to the flavour than this week’s shorter fermentation allowed to develop.

While I know I’ve likely said this in previous posts, this truly is the best tasting bread I’ve baked to date. Truly a great bread with interesting, earthy, complex with satisfying flavours and chew.  What a great journey this has been!  As to fantastic restaurant bread, the search continues!

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bread #15 & the shroud of country blond

This past weekend, the book embarked upon a new chapter  – Pure Levain Doughs.  The first part of the book used only commercial yeast in various ways to make bread. The second part of the book called for the development of a natural yeast starter to be used as a leavening agent while adding a pinch of commercial yeast to help with dough development and oven spring. This new chapter calls for no commercial yeast when making the breads. They are made only with the natural yeast starter I developed over the summer. This should provide me with a true expression of my natural starter’s flavours. This next bread is called Overnight Country Blond. Here’s the story of this week’s bake…

Timeline: early Saturday morning, after having fed my levain the night before, I mixed 100 grams of levain, 400 grams of white flour, 100 grams of whole wheat flour, and 400 grams of water at 85 degrees by hand and set it all aside to rest.  In a separate bowl around 5pm I mixed 804 grams of white flour, 50 grams of rye flour, and 26 grams of whole wheat flour together and added 684 grams of 90 degree water, and let it all rest for about half an hour. Given those exacting measurements I’m reminded each weekend how baking is as much chemistry as artistry.

Once the rest period was over I sprinkled 22 grams of salt over the top of the dough.  I then added 216 grams of the levain and gave it all a good mix. By about 6pm I set the dough aside to rest in a cooler part of the house – room temperature was about 69 degrees.  Before heading off to bed I gave the dough three more stretch and folds.

By morning the book suggested that the dough should have just about tippled after about 12 – 15 hours.  By 9am, fifteen hours later, the dough was at least tipple in volume – likely more so.  I probably shouldn’t have let the dough sit through the full fifteen hours.

At this point I would have normally shaped the dough into two separate loaves. But this bread dough is one that Forkish often uses at his bakery to shape into a 3-kilo boule – yes over 6.5 pounds!  That is a big loaf!  While tempted, I just couldn’t bring myself to bake something that big. For all the bread I eat – that my waistline will readily admit – nearly seven pounds of bread is too much for just about anyone!

That said, I did decide to shape the dough I had into a single loaf rather than two smaller loaves. But this is a wet dough and given that I likely over fermented it by waiting the full fifteen hours, I found it very difficult to shape into a boule. It didn’t easily hold it’s shape.

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Next the dough had to rest for a while as it proofed. I had bought a baking linen as I knew I’d need one sooner or later, and this was the day. I floured it well, placed my loaf on top, covered it with the other end of the linen and waited for it to proof until about noon. I didn’t let it sit much longer given that it had likely over fermented overnight.

Next stop was the oven. I set it to 500 degrees, set a baking stone on the middle rack and put an empty metal tray on the lower rack. After a 45 minute warm up, I was ready to bake. I only had one problem – my dough stuck to the linen cloth! I had liberally floured it, but no luck. It was stuck! I found out subsequently from some baking friends that this is common and I should use rice flour on the linen cloth to stop the dough from sticking. Gently, I flipped over the loaf and pulled off the linen. Ugh…

But everything happens for a reason. After scraping off the dough that stuck to the linen, I couldn’t help but appreciate what I had found.. “the shroud of country blond was looking back at me”.. I had seen the face of dough, and it was beautiful! 🙂


Meanwhile, all spiritual experiences aside, I had dough to bake! I quickly placed the dough on the baking stone using parchment paper and filled the metal tray on my lower oven rack with a liter of water to create  a steam bath within the oven. I quickly closed the door and about 40 minutes later, my bread was baked!

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This was a big loaf! But it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Frankly I don’t think baking such a big loaf was worth the trouble, but it was a fun challenge. As to the results, the shape and structure suffered from over fermentation. The crumb was nice and had a good crisp chew. The crumb was small but uniform. The flavour was definitely the most sour sour-dough flavour I’ve baked to date. It was nice, but pronounced. I liked it, but don’t love sour bread beyond subtle tones.

As the days passed, the sour flavour mellowed and developed softer notes.  I enjoyed it more then. Overall, a good and interesting bread. I’ll try to bake this again at some point as a single size loaf and shorten the fermentation period.  If for no other reason but to be reminded of the shroud of country blond, and how this bake gave rise to discovering the face of dough! 🙂

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bread #14 – field blend #2

Cool fall temperatures are descending upon Toronto. The sun is out and leaves are changing colour.  Pumpkins abound while little ghouls and goblins are planning tricks!    This week’s bake is a play on the theme of making a ‘field blend’ bread using whatever pantry flour remnants are on hand. Here’s the story of this week’s bake…

The difference between this bread, and the last I made – field blend #1 – is the use of whole rye flour.  Unlike the “white rye flour” used in the last loaf, the whole rye flour used in this bread includes all parts of the rye kernel. Other than using whole rye and slightly modifying the flour ratio – of white, whole wheat and whole rye –  these two field blends are pretty much identical breads to make.

The picture below shows the dough Sunday morning, right out of the fridge. The oven was warmed and the dough was ready to be baked. Flipping the basket upside down with a “thwack” onto the counter top, and feeling the dough  reluctantly release itself from the ridges of it’s basket and it’s overnight rest is somehow wonderfully rewarding! The fissures in the dough hint at the oven rise that’s about to occur. It’s simple, beautiful and exciting all all at the same time. At this point of the process, for me, the anticipation increases with each passing moment.

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Ingredients: 540 grams of white flour; 85 grams of whole wheat flour; 175 grams of white rye flour; 620 grams of 90 degree water; 21 grams of fine sea salt; 2 grams of instant dried yeast; and 360 grams of levain.

Timeline: I began Saturday morning and built up the 360 grams of levain using 36 grams of starter from the fridge, 144 grams of white flour, 36 grams of whole wheat flour and 144 grams of water at about 85 degrees. After a good mix, I left it covered for about six hours at room temperature to build strength as the yeast developed feeding off the fresh flour and water mixture. By about 3:30pm I started the autolyse in a separate bowl by mixing 540 grams of white flour, 85 grams of whole wheat flour and 175 grams of whole rye flour together with 620 grams of water at 90 degrees.  I let it rest for about half an hour. I then added the 360 grams of levain, 21 grams of sea salt and 2.5 grams of instant active dry yeast to the flour and water bowl.  The recipe only called for 2 grams of dry yeast, but as I haven’t been baking as much in the past two months I was concerned that my levain’s strength might be a bit weaker than it should for a dough with the weight of whole rye flour and so added a bit more to help the oven spring. This was all thoroughly mixed and folded over the next hour several times.

Again, the recipe times in Forkish’s book run a bit long for my warm kitchen and after about 5 hours the dough had almost tripled! I had only wanted it to pass a doubling volume. By about 8pm I shaped the dough into two tight boules and let them rest on the counter for about ten minutes. I then shaped them again to add a bit more surface tension and placed them in well floured baskets, covered them and placed them in the fridge for the night.  Early Sunday morning I fired up the oven to 475 degrees and baked the loaves 30 minutes with lids on and about 18 minutes with lids off.

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In the description of this bread Forkish talks about it being a bit darker and slightly earthier in flavour than the field blend #1. I agree. The rye flavour really is present in this bread in a way that it wasn’t with the last. The crumb was fairly uniform and overall nicely moist. The crust had a nice chew, but not too much of one. The bread overall was definitely less chewy than field blend #1. This was a very nice bread.

I would definitely make it again.  And I would also increase the amount of rye flour in the mix, reducing the amount of white flour, to increase the rye taste and aroma. This bread was real treat!

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