Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week II: Micro-Bake Oct. 29

I'm exploring the edges – pushing them and pulling them. This week my hands found great joy in shaping raw dough, stretching it taut and giving it form. There is something primordial to this.

During the bake today, I tried to push the crust further than usual. I wanted it darker and thicker. I cut into a loaf (pictured below) and loved the results. The crust was so thick it wanted to break my teeth. The moist and aromatic crumb (bread insides) provided a perfect textural counterbalance.

Each Friday I mix the bread before dinner. Rather than kneading outright, I give it turns at certain intervals to stretch the gluten and build structure. This method dwells in the land between kneaded and no-knead bread, providing the practical benefits of both. An hour after the final turn, I divide the dough and pre-shape, then give it a final shape thirty minutes later. Right now this is my favorite part of the process. It's like separating day from night, land from sea. Chaos takes form.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week I: Micro-Bake Oct. 22

Here's some images of the French Country Levain I baked yesterday, nine loaves in all. For those who are curious, here's some info on the flours and ratios I'm using.

French Country Levain: 90% bread flour, 10% wheat. The bread flour (white) was grown in US, and milled over at Lindley Mills in NC. The wheat flour is Whole Foods Organic Whole Wheat (I'm looking for a more local alternative). The dough is hydrated at 75%, meaning it's super wet, which results in the moist interior of the final loaf (66% is an average hydration level, in comparison).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In the beginning, a turn.

This is the beginning of a bread pilgrimage. Not a journey, not an adventure, but a pilgrimage. Both the way and the end are unknown. What is known is bread: its density, its slowness, its meekness. It is, and by it, I am, wending up, and down, and through, the slow and measured way of perfection.


Setting Out – a poem by Scott Cairns

In time, even the slowest pilgrim might
articulate a turn. Given time enough,
the slowest pilgrim – even he – might
register some small measure of belated
progress. The road was, more or less, less
compelling than the hut, but as the benefit
of time allowed the hut's distractions to attain
a vaguely musty scent, and all the novel
knickknacks to acquire a fine veneer of bone-
white dust, the road became then somewhat more
attractive; and as the weather made a timely
if quite brief concession, the pilgrim took this all
to be an open invitation to set out.