I have baked and baked. Through a long winter I baked. Early mornings in my cold dark kitchen I baked. Every weekend I baked. For my friends I baked. For my family I baked … it was the same bread that I baked.
The fresh smell of spring surrounds us and the star jasmine hanging on our back fence is about to flower and flood our senses further. On our small porch a tomato plant has been busily producing a steady supply of tasty treats. Bruschetta nights have never tasted better. Bushfires colour the air.
With the coming of spring has also come change—unplanned change and unpleasant change—change I must learn to embrace. Our graphic design studio within a government agency has been affected by workplace change and my work colleagues and I have become surplus to requirements. This uncertainty has been ongoing for the past few months and it now seems we finally have some resolution and closure—just in time for the fresh beginnings of spring.
Baking has been a constant throughout this stressful process. Every weekend I would mix large batches of ‘Pain au Levain’ using Gerard Rubaud’s method to share with friends and family. I might perhaps adjust the amount of the freshly milled wholegrain flours in the levain or final dough but I never strayed from the path of consistency.
But consistency requires change. Spring means temperatures have risen (good grief, it is 31°C today). My levain expands quicker and the doughs proof faster—I have to change to adapt.
Spring Levain (4 x 900g batards)
Total dough weight
Levain – 5-6hrs 25°C
Previous levain build
Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)
Final dough. DDT=25°C
Laucke Wallaby bakers flour
Freshly milled spelt flour
- Mix levain and leave to ferment for 5-6 hours at 25°C
- Mill spelt flour and combine with bakers flour. Mix with water holding back 100 grams of water.
- Autolyse for 5-6 hours.
- Add levain to autolyse then knead (french fold) for three mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 100 grams of water. Squeeze the salt and water through the dough to incorporate (the dough will separate then come back together smoothly). Remove from the bowl and knead a further three mins.
- Bulk ferment for four hours untouched—no stretch-and-folds!
- Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into batards and proof in bannetons seam side up.
- Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C before being placed in the fridge for 12hrs.
- Bring dough to room temperature for an hour while oven is preheating. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C for a further 30 mins.
It makes beautifully simple bread. Unfussy but elegant with a crust that shatters and sings—a silken crumb within.
So I continue to bake—and soon, who knows, maybe I will be baking even more that I could ever imagine :)
This post is dedicated to my amazing Miss Nat who watched over me and carried me through … thank you XX