Saturday, February 04, 2006


the pain de campagne rustique: remembering it

so last night was time to remember the pain de campagne chef from wed. it looked, as always, a tad unpromisng: a slightly cracked ball, dried out in some spots, moist in others, with a thick heavy skin all around.

but! if you take a knife and peel off that skin, inside you'll find a tablespoon or 2 of moist stuff with a spongy texture that indicates something's trying to rise in there and a pleasant smell rather like dark beer. bingo: you're good to go; the wild yeasties have moved in.

so in a clean glass bowl, plop in your 2 tablespoons of living chef and gradually stir in 1/4 c. lukewarm or warmish non-chlorinated water. the goal is to dissolve the chef and the yeasties into a stew.

it probably won't dissolve completely, but give it a nice gentle thorough stir. then add:

3/4 c./3.75 oz/108 g. organic stone-ground flour

you can add whatever flour you like: white whole wheat, whole rye, unbleached white, some mixture of the above, whatever. mix to a soft dough and knead by hand for about 3 mins.

personally, i always include some rye in both the chef and this step, the so-called "1st refreshment," which makes the chef into a levain. last night i used 1/4 c.

why? because the yeasties seem to love rye early on, and rye "sours" nicely. a little rye contributes to the nice "tang" in the finished bread.

however, since i don't like my bread very tangy, i don't add any more rye after this. i stick to the white whole wheat and/or unbleached white.

basically from now on, you're a yeast farmer. you want to create conditions that make the little yeasties happy so they will make good bread for you.

so cover your new levain with plastic, set it in a warm place (i keep mine over the pilot light in my old gas oven), and forget about it for another 24 hours. let the yeasties be.

thus, when i woke up this morning i checked the levain before making my usual morning cappuccini with jessica's batdorf dancing goat. already, just about 9 hours later, it had noticeably risen, but i must remind you the weather's been unseasonably warm these past few days.

tomorrow afternoon or early monday evening after work i'll be baking this bread, depending on how the yeasties flourish. see how easy making bread from scratch really is?

there's just almost no work -- it's all waiting for the yeasties to be their own bad selves. and home-made bread tastes so much better than anything you can buy, even from many bakers.

so while all this is going on, let me take this opportunity to note that long-time bccy chocolate pal jacques torres got a nice "best buy" mention from consumer reports in their recent chocolate survey. not that i'm a big fan of the magazine, but i do like jacques' bon-bons, esp. his coconut, espresso, and passion fruit ones.

i was mystified at their low rating of similar bccy pal richard m's richart candies. because those are yummy.

i especially remember his one particular truffle from the famous chocolate dinner. . .

posted by fortune | 8:20 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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