if patience is a virtue, then let's just say i've spent most of my life striving for it . . . this is an oxymoron, i know, because being patient is the exact opposite of striving. but, i am not good at sitting still, calmly waiting for anything. i go when i'm awake, and i stop when i'm asleep, and there is not much in between. so for me there is a lesson in making bread: it is the valuable, heart warming activity of tolerance and the acceptance of what is to come. it requires me to give up most of the control to the bread, which is basically making itself, and needs only my humble service to keep it comfortable and tend to its care.
still, i have not learned even after years of making bread, and anxious with anticipatince is how i spent a day at work after the morning i made a sponge from my own wild yeast starter. i was so excited to have succeeded in growing yeast with nothing other than flour and water, that i couldn't wait to see the end result. oh, but confucius says, "desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly". isn't that just the truth when it comes to baking bread with yeast that isn't "fast-acting". there are no short cuts, no quick tricks, no set timers that will make this bread rise any faster. it is like watching grass grow. you simply have to submit to the yeast and the dough until they tell you it's time to bake.
scored and ready for baking.
my forced patience over the 24 hours that it took to bake these patty-cake loaves was a reward that filled our home with a comforting smell, and my heart with a sense of accomplishment. it feels like i have been an assistant in the creation of something good, and now i anticipate, with serenity, the opportunity to do it over again.
• 1 cup of ripe chef starter click here to learn how to make a natural starter
• 2 cups of lukewarm water
• 1 cup of whole wheat flour
• 2 to 2 1/2 cups of white bread flour
• 1 tbl. of olive oil
• kosher salt
1. mix all the ingredients in the bowl of the kitchen aid just until combined. cover the bowl with a towel and let it rest about 20 minutes–this is called autolyse and allows the flour to absorb the water and for the gluten to start to develop.
2. knead the dough on the first setting about 6-8 min. until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. cover the bowl with the towel and after 20 minutes fold it click to learn to fold a wet dough
4. fold it two more times after allowing it to rest for 20 minutes each time.
5. rub olive oil on the inside of a large bowl and put the dough in it, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise until double in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
6. gently remove the dough onto a lightly floured counter with the pastry scraper– you don't want to push out all of the air pockets that have developed.
7. cut it in half, and then each half in half again. cover it with a towel and let it rest 30 minutes.
8. gently form the pieces into rectangles with the long side nearest to you.
9. to form baguettes, work with one rectangle at a time and fold the top and bottom to the center. gently seal the two edges. fold the top edge to the bottom and seal. gently roll out to a long baguette shape, and put them seam side up onto a wooden peel dusted with corn meal. place rolled up towels or place-mats between the baguettes.
10. cover the shaped baguettes with the towel and allow them to proof until about double (that's when you make an indentation with your index finger and the spot holds instead of springing back).
11. raise the top rack in the oven to about 6-7 inches from the top and lay a baking stone onto it. put the bottom of the broiler pan on the bottom rack and fill it with water. preheat the oven for 1/2 hour to 450 degrees.
12. slash the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife or razor to about 1/4 inch deep.
13. push the loaves off of the wooden peel just like you would a pizza crust with one clean jerk.
14. bake them for about 30-35 minutes until the tops are dark brown and crispy– rotate them about half way through to make sure they bake evenly.
15. let them cool completely on the grate of the stove top before cutting.