The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,

Kiseger's picture

"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.


pmccool's picture

Beautiful loaves and a sparkling write-up.


isand66's picture

Not a big fan of oysters....but your bread would be welcome all by itself....maybe with a little butter and cheese :).

dabrownman's picture

and the write up as why I live in AZ.   It's been way over 120 days since we had any rain at our house and only a couple of cloudy days where you shadow never showed up for at least a very long while.  Our record is half a year- even though Phoenix record is 160 days of no rain  - but it  is 111 F today.   We have had over 100 F for over well over 100 days in a row, many, many times :-)

Happy baking 

Kiseger's picture

Thank you Gentlemen, much appreciated.  

DAB - I have been to AZ once and found the landscape breathtaking, I also loved the dry heat!!  I think the name Arizona comes from an early Aztec word meaning "little spring" - which would have been hugely welcome in the heat!!


dabrownman's picture

to AZ nearly 30 years ago, I stayed at a resort in January than had orange trees planted  in half wine barrels on the patio - they were just ripe.  I said I'm moving here.  Then I in the morning paper, there was a cartoon of two skeletons on hands and knees, under a saguaro cactus, crawling trough the desert with the six shooters on and a cowboy hat - otherwise nothing but bones.  The first skeleton was turning around and talking to the 2nd one and he said 'yeah, but it is a dry heat!'  I had only experienced the oranges in January but since  was moving from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I thought I could handle the heat.  Sadly, Jeddah is on the Red Sea and has an ocean to jump into with the Red Sea Reef to snorkel in - Gilbert seems to lack those great things that make heat more tolerable.

Like most places we have 7 months of best weather in the world and 5 months of hell..... except hell isn't as hot.

I used to have dreams of hiking in the desert, running out of water,  nearly passing out and falling into a huge cactus getting covered in needles and then having a rattlesnake bite me to put me out of my misery.  Sadly, we have several folks from North of the border each year who die in the desert because they just don't know how easy it is to die in this most unforgiving place, don't take enough water and or get injured.

Still, The desert is an alluring place with its own spectacular year round beauty and a great place to come for a visit if it is cold where you live.

Happy Baking

CAphyl's picture

Kiseger:  These breads look wonderful, so you must be very pleased.  And I love your accompanying write-up.  You have inspired me to be try for a more colorful commentary.  I do agree with you that it is hard to top dabrownman's shots of the sky and photos of his fantastic bread!

I bake in the U.S. and the U.K. as my husband is from the North, a scouser, or Liverpudlian in more correct language, and we have a place there to visit all of his family and our dear friends.  We get to London a lot to visit friends as well.  During our last visit to the UK in May/June, I think we had better weather in the north than you did in the south, although we had plenty of rain.  My husband enjoys the rain in the UK, as we live in California and do not have enough rain at all, and in fact have been lacking in proper levels of rain for more than five years.  When he is in the UK, he loves to walk around in the rain! We will be over in the UK again soon for a family wedding, so I hope the rain holds off for the wedding.  All the best for continued success in your baking.  Best,  Phyllis

PetraR's picture

Beautiful loafs Kiseger.