Sunday, March 30, 2014


Because I had enjoyed a lovely conversation with Karen from church (re: her family bakery) I asked Hank about starting the Levain from scratch.  He said he had some that he keeps alives and would share. So I asked Hank if he'd like to come over some time and together make his Tartine.  I needed a refresher course from start to finish.  Yesterday was the day!  What follows is the recipe which I wrote down as we went, along with pictures I took to help me remember.
The one thing you need to purchase to get these results is a cast iron combo cooker.  Luckily and kindly, Hank and Marissa had given us one back when they were living with us.  Later I bought a larger one from Ken Barlow's garage sale. You will need some sort of basket or couche to raise the formed loaves.  Hank ran to Pat Catans and picked up some but we needed one more and so I used my collapsible vegetable steaming basket, hung on the cabinet door handles in the corner. 

 LEVAIN***see below
100 g whole wheat flour
100 g bread flour
2 T levain previously made
200 g warm water

Combine with spatula til it forms a ball.  Cover with lid and leave overnight on the counter.  When ready to use in the bread, remove 2 T of the levain, keeping only 200 g for the bread.

200 g levain
700 g warm water + 50 g warm water for later
(1000 g flour total)
900 g bread flour
100 g whole wheat flour
20 g salt

Place all the water, and all the flour in a large bowl (TW cake safe) and 200 g levain.  Glog it all together til it’s shaggy.  Allow it to sit for 30 minutes (keep house at 78-80 degrees F.)  

Mix in the 50 g warm water and 20 g salt.  Combine by squeezing the water and salt into the dough which is now wet, not quite batter.  The gluten has not developed yet.  You can place in cold oven next to a pot of boiling water.  Allow to rise for 2 hours.  BUT EVERY HALF HOUR GIVE IT FOLDS TO DEVELOP THE GLUTEN.  This will require the baker to watch the rise and development of the gluten. We put the dough into a 30+ year old TW cake safe which made for better folding and it also fit into the oven.

After 2 hours of the half hour foldings, place the bowl and dough back in the oven and let rest for 2 hours.  Do nothing other than add another pan of boiling water to the oven to keep the moisture on the dough.  You can see a bubble on the dough if you look close. 

LIGHTLY flour the surface.  Gently dump out the dough and divide into 2 equal portions.  You might need to lightly dust the cut edges with flour.  BUBBLES/HOLES SHOULD BE VISIBLE.  With each piece fold the edges in onto itself turning over to form into round loaves.  Sprinkle lightly with flour and cover the loaves with linen towels so the loaves do not lose their heat, allow to rest for 20 minutes. (IF the loaves DOME, you will need to reshape and rest for another 20 minutes.  The loaves should eventually flatten.

Make a 50/50 mixture of rice flour and bread flour and use this to flour the linen towels.

Take the first loaf, stretch out into sort of a short rectangle.  Fold up 1/3, fold 1/3 inside from the right, fold 1/3 from left, and then fold over onto the last remaining 1/3, rolling into a ball by cupping the edges in WITHOUT RIPPING THE DOUGH.

Gently flip over onto the floured linens which are set inside the couche bowls.  Set timer for 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before baking, setting the combo cast iron pans inside the oven to heat.  This will increase the time it takes to preheat the oven because of the cast iron pans.

When it’s time, take the combo pans out of the oven.  The shallower one (the one I use as a skillet) will become the base for the loaves.  Invert each loaf onto ths pan. 

Sprinkle a handful of water onto the tops of the loaves. Using a lame or very sharp knife cut into it with a pattern you like (this allows for lovely ‘ears’ to form as the loaves bake).  Quickly invert the other part of the combo cooker (the deeper one) over the loaf.  Insert into the oven and reduce the heat to 450 degrees.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the top portion of the combo cooker and return the loaf to the oven to finish baking…another 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven, quickly remove loaves from the cookers and place on a cooling rack.  If you listen carefully you can hear the wonderful sound the bread makes as it cools…very much like a ‘snap, crackle pop’ sound.
And see how lovely the inside looks...even without a spray injecting oven!

***(FOR THE NEXT BATCH OF BREAD/LEVAIN=to the 2 T of levain add 27 g warm water and 27 g bread in container with lid and leave on counter til the next day.  To maintain the starter, leave on counter and discard half, then feed 50/50 blend every day.  Keep the same weight every day.  If not using immediately, after that first day place in frig.  Feed once a month doing the same process.  Bring container out the counter, discard half, add 50/50 blend.  Allow to come back to life.  Continue with bread baking.)

1 comment:

Lin Floyd said...

wow that sounds like two days plus of work and I bet the loaves are so yummy they are quickly eaten.

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