All right. This feels almost like a coming out. Yes, I have a secret. And it has to do with me “secretly” exchanging correspondence with another fellow food blogger. No, not ANY fellow food blogger. Another bread-nerd fellow food blogger. Actually, I have been writing with plenty of fellow food bloggers and some of them are bread nerds like me. But this very bread nerd, or in nicer terms a virtuous of home bread baking, did something which I will never forget. Getting curious? (SCROLL DOWN FOR THE COMPLETE STORY AND BREAD METHOD – anche in italiano).
I am talking of Francis-Olive, the soul behind Tartine Bread Experiment (check her blog out if you haven’t done it yet, it’s one of the best bread baking blogs around). A few months ago, I was complaining that my new oven was a true disappointment. The maximum temperature is so low that it is almost impossible to get a proper oven spring. Francis-Olive had on her side both a very hot oven and a combo cooker. Which is, a double cast iron skillet. This behaves like a dutch oven, creating, indeed, another oven in the oven and allowing the bread to get the steam it needs from its own humidity. Chad Robertson thought of this method to allow home bakers to get bakery perfect bread. But it was only thanks to Tartine Bread Experiment’s blog that I got hooked and started to fancy having a combo cooker myself. Too bad: NOT ONLY I had a crappy oven BUT ALSO I could not get a proper combo cooker in Sweden. And then the miracle happened.
Guess what? Francis-Olive went totally off her way and offered to buy the combo cooker for me in the US and ship it to my address in Sweden. Do you have any idea of how heavy a double cast iron skillet is? Well, this woman I have never met or talked to in person went twice (the first time she forgot to take my address) to the post office carrying a 15 pounds parcel just to enable me, a total stranger, to make better bread. Can you believe how
crazy nice she is?
To thank her, I promised to make one of her loaves using the combo cooker. I chose her recently posted City Bread In Light Spelt which I believe is one of her best loaves ever. I was a little concerned about the outcome. After all, my oven is still what it is and we use different flours and… WOW. The bread was a total success. The combo a success even with my lower initial temperature and Francis-Olive’s method a foolproof bread making wand.
Questo post e’ dedicato ad un’altra blogger con la passione del pane, Francis-Olive di Tartine Bread Experiment. Per ripagarla del suo atto generoso, rifacendo una delle sue creazioni migliori. Quale atto generoso? Senza conoscermi affatto, ha aquistato per me negli States e mi ha spedito un pesantissimo combo cooker (due padelle in ferro massiccio) in cui si puo’ cucinare il pane con risultati eccellenti – e’ come un forno nel forno.
CITY BREAD IN LIGHT SPELT adapted from Tartine Bread Experiment
Makes two loaves – Dosi per due pani
DAY ONE (Thursday for me) – PRIMO GIORNO (giovedi’ per me)
Instead of leaving my starter alone for 12 hours, I aimed to feed it three times a day, as suggested by Francis-Olive (just like in the classic method for panettone!!!). I ended up feeding the starter 4 times in a day: it was truly hyperactive (I will call it the Tartine Bread Experiment Effect)
9-10 pm: prepare the levain using 74 g starter, 222 g dark rye flour, 222 g water
Si comincia rinfrescando il tuo lievito liquido (100 g lievito+100 g acqua+100g farina) 3 volte in un solo giorno (come nel panettone!!!). Io ho finito per rinfrescarlo 4 volte, era iperattivo.
ore 9-10 di sera: fai l’ultimo rinfresco con 74 g lievito, 222 g farina di segale, 222 acqua
DAY TWO (Friday for me) – SECONDO GIORNO (venerdi’ per me)
Make the dough with: 518 g levain, 544 g water, 440 g light spelt flour and 660 g all-purpose flour* (Francis-Olive uses 550 g light spelt+550 g bread flour), 24 g sea salt.
*in Sweden we cannot find light spelt alone. It is always mixed with all-purpose flour in a 40/60 percentage. If you live in Sweden, use 1100 g of this flour.
Fai l’impasto con: tutto il lievito (518 g), 734 g acqua, 440 g farina di farro chiara, 660 g farina 00, 24 g sale (ma non aggiungerlo subito)
9:30 am: Mix the dough by hand without adding the salt yet, then autolyse for 1 hour (which means, let it be, covered, for 1 hour)
10:30 am: Add the salt and mix a little more by hand
11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30 am: Make folds at each time interval
12:30-14:45 am: Let rest in the fridge covered
14:45 pm: Shape into two tight rounds (check Francis-Olive’s post on how to do this)
15 pm: Let rest in the fridge for 20 hours (my loaves rested 18 hours and 20 hours)
Ore 9:30 Combina gli ingredienti a mano senza impastare molto e lascia riposare per un’ora senza aggiungere il sale
Ore 10:30 Aggiungi il sale e impasta a mano il minimo necessario per farlo incorporare
Ore 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30 Fai le pieghe
Ore 12:30-14:45 Fai riposare, coperto, in frigo
Ore 14:45 Forma due pagnottelle belle tonde e strette
Ore 15:00 Fai riposare in frigo per 20 ore (le mie 18 e 20 ore)
DAY THREE (Saturday for me) – TERZO GIORNO (Sabato mattina per me)
8 am: Preheat the oven to its maximum (mine is a sad 475 degrees Fahrenheit) making sure your baking stone and the combo – if you have one – are in
9 am: Invert the loaf on parchment paper and on floured peel, score the loaf – as suggested by Francis-Olive, I used a razor blade, no fancy scoring tools, just a plain razor blade. It can be done without cutting yourself, I promise 🙂 – and transfer the loaf on the shallow part of the combo cooker (if you have one). Close the combo e place back in the oven, lowering the temperature to 475 degrees (Fahrenheit, 250 Celsius). In my case, that is already my maximum 🙁 If you do not have a combo, create steam as you like
9:30 am: Remove the upper part of the combo and lower the temperature to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit, 230 Celsius) and bake until golden brown. To me this took 15 minutes
10:30 am: Repeat the steps above with the second loaf
Ore 8:00 Preriscalda il forno al massimo (il mio arriva appena a 250 gradi). Se hai una pietra refrattaria, usala. Dubito che tu abbia un combo, ma se l’avessi deve esser dentro
Ore 9:00 Rovescia il pane su carta da forno e su una pala per pizza e incidi con una lametta per rasoio (se si e’ attenti questo e’ il modo migliore), poi trasferisci nella parte inferiore del combo o sulla pietra refrattaria o su una teglia. Se non hai il combo, crea del vapore. Riduci la temperatura a 250 gradi
Ore 9:30 Rimuovi la parte superiore del combo e riduci la temperatura a 230 gradi. Cuoci finche’ la crosta non e’ bella scura (nel mio caso ci sono voluti 15 minuti)
Ore 10:30 Ripeti i passi precedenti anche per il secondo pane
I know I should have waited longer to cut the bread. But the light was disappearing and… well, I simply could not wait to taste it! So che avrei dovuto aspettare di piu’ prima di tagliare il pane ma non ci sono riuscita!
CONSIDERATIONS, CONSIDERAZIONI: What can I possibly say? The making of this loaf is certainly challenging. It is almost as challenging as the making of panettone and it ends up spreading over 3 days. Alas, I must say that, just like for panettone, once you have figured out the process, you can fit it into your regular schedule. For instance, next time I do this loaf (and I will be doing it) I will make only two feedings on a Sunday, have the levain ready by the evening, and have the loaves shaped by the time I generally go to sleep (just before midnight). Then, the day after (Monday) I will be able to bake the loaves after dinner, perfect way to release the tension of a working day. And, mon Dieu, to wake up to freshly baked bread on a weekday and not to any bread but to THIS bread??? Just take my word: this loaf is not just beautiful. The best part of it is the heavenly, soft and rich, crumb. I wish I could photograph TASTE. My dear Francis-Olive, I will forever be thankful to you for having taught me this technique, for having made materially possible to me to try it, and for your amazing bread and formulas. One day you will publish a best-selling bread book and I will say: I knew her first 🙂 Hope who’s reading will give a try to this loaf. It is worth every second spent preparing it. To the stuff of life!
Questo pane non e’ solo bello ma e’ anche incredibilmente buono e saporito. In futuro cambiero’ lo schema in modo da poterlo fare durante la settimana lavorativa, perche’ e’ sicuro che lo rifaro’. Ringrazio vivamente Francis-Olive per tutto quello che ha fatto per me, incluso farmi conoscere il suo meraviglioso pane, che merita lo sforzo che richiede.
This goes to Susan and also to the 56th edition of Bread Baking Day entitled “A Bread Fashion Show” theme proposed by the host The Gingered Whisk and dedicated to breads with a pattern on the crust of the bread.