"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
(L.Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter).
London finally had one really glorious sunny day, it shined and shined and everyone came out like the little oysters (with their clean shoes, even though they hadn't any feet) and lay laconically on the grass in the park, basking in the sun pretending that they would blissfully turn from green to brown ….but instead, all returned home looking rather more like lobsters. What a lark!! So, instead, I stayed in to bake and to clean up The Husband's occasional dump of bike, swim and run clothing as he progressed through his training programme. On Sunday, luckily the weather reverted to its standard behaviour and all Londoners were reassured that they should not be flummoxed by two beautiful days in a row - after all, what to do with yesterday's sunburn?? So again, I baked a bit more….and was rewarded with the most beautiful pair of rainbows in the evening - one above the other with crystal clear colours. I did not take a photo, let's be honest - who can compete with DABrownman's magical sky shots???
Bread 1: Tartine's Basic Country Loaf.
This seemed to work better than I expected and I seem to have managed a passable oven spring, a "decent for a beginner" scoring and an acceptable crumb. This felt like I was getting somewhere. Used my 100%H 50/50 starter, retarded in the fridge for about 10 hours before baking straight in the DO.
Very good flavour, only a very very mild SD tang and then only just slightly there if one is looking for it. It went well with cheese (Comte and Crottin de Chavignol), a strawberry/cherry jam, some excellent chorizo, some Austrian Speck and just plain old olive oil (we are in love with a Croatian company called Oleum Viride, which they sell at Borough Market, with this bread I had the sort called "Istarska bjelica").
I still prefer KF Field Blend 1 in flavour to this, and then prefer the WW + Spelt below to the FB1.
I baked both in my Le Creuset DO which really works perfectly. My oven is older than I am (not in a good way) and so achieving reliable and constant temperatures is an "aspiration" rather than a reality.
Bread 2: Tartine 3: Wholewheat and Spelt with Wheat Germ
My kitchen temperature yo-yo'ed through the bulk ferment from 20C (68F) to 25C (77F) and then back to 19C (66F) - typical London weather, on/off, on/off etc..
With this one, I felt like I didn't quite reach proper gluten development during the bulk stage- it was almost like soup when I got to pre-shape and again on shaping. (Well, it wasn't really like soup, but I was quite grumpy at this point - not helped by finding that The Husband's bicycle was standing in our salon propped against a beautiful old chair and puddles of water graced our entrance hall....). I didn't quite pour it into the banneton, but it almost felt like it. I started with the "Bertinet" method of slap & fold on the counter and after the second time, I moved on to the gentler stretch & fold for the next 3 folds. It "sort of" rose during proofing and then just spread happily into the DO rather than springing up! So lots to learn, but it's super fun (and thanks to all the TFL guidance and advice).
That being said, this was, of the two breads, the best in terms of taste - rich and nutty and warm. That sort of warmth that Hildegard of Bingen speaks about when she writes about spelt, which was (for her) the best food and medicine. The spelt and wheat germ certainly gave it depth, it smelled of hazelnuts and wheat fields in the summer. I have to say that, after the second slice, I didn't care what it looked like - this is the kind of bread I want to eat all the time, as long as I don't tell The Husband it has spelt - I do not think I can withstand more witticisms about orthography.
It was excellent across the board with cheese (St. Felicien, Beaufort, St. Maure and Cashel Blue), with salmon (made a salad with barley, poached salmon, fennel, fresh broad beans and dill) and it loved mopping up the haddock "provencal" (with black olives and tomatoes). It was also simply excellent with shards of parmiggiano and a glass of good Barolo.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.