Hello, blog! Long time, yada, yada, yada… Anyway, anybody (I’m looking at you, wife and maybe sis), who’s read this old ass blog for a long ass time is familiar with my bread obsession. For those who aren’t, here’s a quick primer. It all started way back in ’09 with the Sourdough Baby, followed a year later by Sourdough pizza dough, which was followed by the (un)fortunately titled PK’s Yeast Infection. Then came Bread Smack Down! which was followed by Baguettes! What’s obvious – along with my predilection for exclamation marks(!) – is this preoccupation with starters, flour to water ratios, yeast, fermentation, rising (or not rising) has been well documented. It’s fair to say that even major media might be trying to ride my coattails on this. Case in point: check out this recent article from the NY Times. Sheeit! Way to be late to the game, Times!
But thus far, what has been lacking is a step by step video where I guide the gentle viewer through the bread making process itself. Then, a few weeks ago, Mark and Amanda came over for dinner freshly inspired by Michael Pollen’s Netflix doc series called Cooked. The third episode is all about air and how the process of making bread has allowed humans to essential capture air in our food. It’s a really poetic and beautiful way of encapsulating the way yeast produces gas that is trapped in bubbles of wheat gluten thereby producing airy and delicious bread that demands be tasted though our olfactory sense. The show is gorgeous to look at and in it, Pollan makes a beautiful loaf during the course of the episode and at the end he says that there are few things as satisfying as baking a great loaf of bread. It was enough to inspire, Luca, Mark and Amanda’s son to make his own starter and Amanda asked if I (because I’m a stellar human being – and I’ve baked bread for them in the past) would help them make bread. So I thought “Why not? Why not help, Luca? And at the same time help EVERYBODY to make delicious bread?! Clarence, why not give the people the gift of a video with easy to follow instructions on how to make wonderful bread?” Basically, I want to to not just give people a fish, I want to teach them to fish… for bread.
Alright, all credit still goes to Chad Robertson and Tartine. I’ve been using the Tartine method of making a rustic sourdough loaf for several years now, so I’d say I’ve gotten the hang it. When I first started making bread this way, I was pretty obsessive about following the steps as laid out by the book. Since then, I’ve gotten a bit looser so that I can make the process fit more to my schedule because as you’ll see, this bread takes a good long time to do properly. It’s a great weekend project because you’ll need time to prepare the leaven (starter+flour+water) that you’ll use in the bread. And the bread itself will take 12-18 hours from start to finish, depending on the weather, humidity, temperature and all the rest. The important thing to remember is even if it doesn’t come out the way you want, there’s really nothing as good as freshly baked bread.
Here are the actually proportions the ingredients for one loaf:
leaven: 125 grams
water: 350 grams
bread flour: 400 grams
whole wheat flour: 100 grams
salt: 13 grams
That’s all the stuff. Now here’s how the bread magic happens: