Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Breads Numbers 79 and 80: Barley and Whole Wheat Combos

It feels good to begin to emerge from the last few months of fog and hectic activity. More on the horizon with travels and the Jewish holidays approaching, but somehow I am grounded again and home for a while, as if being here is antidote enough. I have not actually looked at nor posted anything on any bread forums for months, not even my favorite fresh loaf. With work of late resembling the Lucy and Ethel chocolate factory assembly line, only with more interesting work, though not as tasty, my time triage did not make space for conversing about bread or perusing anyone else's wisdom.

No, I have spent more time on art and language studying, giving myself credit for learning even though the learning is slow. The artwork is more therapy than the bread making;  I never feel anxious about how anything will turn out, which is always the case with bread however experienced I become.

Barley and whole wheat - okay

Freshly milled flour can make up for many sins. It smells delicious as the dough comes together and it produces wonderful breads. The milling machine is a little noisy, but that's only for a few minutes while the grinding happens. It is cool to watch the flour magically emerge from the chute and fall into the bowl. I feel one step closer to nature, about the same distance I feel when shopping at the farmers market and talking to actual farmers (our market requires one present at each stall). 

For breads #79 and 80, I made pretty much the same bread twice, two different ways, with the exact same results. Don't get me wrong, the barley and whole wheat breads tasted fine, but we've been spoiled. The bar is set so high when one eats homemade sourdough bread all the time that it takes quite a bit to be impressed. That said, these were fine, good-tasting, breads. Good breakfast of two slices with a little butter. I will finish the barley berries bag, but I won't rush out to purchase another.

For both breads, I did a sponge and an autolyse phase before adding salt to mix the complete dough. Bread #79 had a long first rise of the complete dough. Bread #89 had an overnight sponge phase and 2.5 hour first rise. The ingredients were roughly the same (details below). I expected completely different results, but got pretty much the same bread. A somewhat dense crumb, decent oven spring (considering the proportion of whole wheat and barley flours), and a very nice crust.

Ingredients in total
water - 349g (384g)
starter - 173g (101g)
bread flour - 28g (64g)
barley flour - 94g (98g)
whole wheat flour - 350g (359g)
salt - 11g
sesame seeds on top (optional)

Bread #79 amounts are listed first and bread #80 amounts are in parentheses. Any small difference in amounts were due to my penchant for using all of the freshly-milled flour. Significant differences were due to the decision to use a rather large amount of starter for bread #79, but not for bread #80.



All of the starter
Water - 70g (201g)
All of the barley flour
All of the bread flour

Mix and cover. I left out overnight in a warm kitchen for bread #80. The sponge looks quite similar to a rye sponge. The sponge will get a little puffy and nicely bubbly, but not exuberantly so. Do not expect something like a sponge that all bread flour will produce. 


All of the whole wheat flour
Water - 279g (183g)

Mix, cover, and let sit for about 20 minutes.


Salt - 11g 

Mix, cover, and do three stretch and folds, all 25 to 50 minutes apart. Let the dough rise and rest. It needs somewhere between 2.5 and five hours.

Dough texture warning
This dough is not as pliant as an all-wheat dough. It must be handled carefully as even a strong stretch and fold will cause breakage.

Once the bread has risen, I did one more stretch and fold, covered the dough, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Now, preheat the oven to 450 to 470 degrees. Again, I varied the temperature for these breads. It baked somewhat better at 470 degrees.

I preheated the oven with the baking stone and the top of the la cloche.

I shaped the dough following the 15 minute rest and put the dough in a well-floured brotform, which I then covered. Let sit for one hour. For bread #80 I sprinkled sesame seeds on top of the flour on the bottom of the brotform so that the top of the dough would be covered in sesame seeds. Worked like a charm.

I baked at 470 degrees, covering the dough with the top of the la cloche. I baked for a while longer for bread #80, which resulted in a better done interior. Total baking time was 47 minutes.

Nice. A solidly good bread. Not exciting, perhaps not to be repeated even, but good. This iswhat experimenting is about, learning and getting the full spectrum of possible results. Tomorrow, I will eat this bread for breakfast for the fourth day in a row and I look forward to that. Solidly good.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Waking up and smelling the freshly-milled flour

A quick post to say I think I am back. After months of hardly making bread and not making any new breads to qualify for my 108, I recently baked two new breads, which will be numbers 79 and 80. Preview: They are both combinations of freshly-milled barley and whole wheat flours.

What happened? Vacation, unexpected business trips, and my friend's son's death. The summer was supposed to be a relaxing, happy time. Turned out that new work projects turned my never-travel job into a suddenly lots-of-travel job, which is good, but traveling messes with bread making and other home endeavors. The travels, personal and business, were wonderful, though I returned home each time with a need for R&R more than anything else.

The death really stopped me in my tracks. None of us controls the world and the sudden, needless death of a sweet, promising young man sent that message home big time. To see my friend, her husband and their surviving son have to suffer this loss is truly awful. For a long while, this news sapped my energy to work, make bread, or think about anything remotely frivolous. I did not know this boy well because I met him when our children entered high school. Unlike the pre-school and elementary school friends, the high school peers do not enter the parental universe unless they become our children's close friends.

But I knew this boy through every conversation over the years with his mother and our hearts and our time are still with his family. 

And the bread? It has waited. I am finally getting pleasure from the new flour mill, finally pondering what and when on the Jewish holiday challahs as the holidays quickly approach, and finally considering breads and other baking as life returns to a nice normal.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Kitchen Work + Cleaning = Baking Pause

The bowls, whisks, la cloches, and other accoutrements of bread making are sitting neatly on tables and floors around the house while some renovation gets done. Not a gut renovation, which sounds like a ton of fun, though extremely expensive, but enough of a project that most cabinets and drawers had to be emptied. 

I'd like to say I am taking the time to peruse recipes and plan out the next bunch of breads, but I am focused on cleaning my office/art studio/study/small walk-in closet. When that essential space gets beyond a certain clutter level, I find it impossible to do anything other than clean, though usually my cleaning stops at tidying up. This time, full blast review of books, stuff waiting to be put elsewhere, jewelry I never wear, scarves, shoes, and children's artwork over a decade old that has been sitting under my dresser (awaiting decision of whether to be put in the "special box," now actually three large plastic containers with paintings, drawings, awards, and assorted written work from before pre-school through college).

Now that my art projects have expanded beyond a notebook kept of collages with calligraphy and drawings, to actual paintings, and, perhaps, an installation of old tiles, I need the space to reorganize the art supplies and neatly store the language notebooks. The neatening is very satisfying. I can see the pretty green paper on my dresser and the shelves are no longer jammed with stuff.

Now I can ponder the next stage of making bread.

On bread
The bread requires something I have not previously committed to: an organized schedule throughout the week when bread-related decisions are made, grocery lists added to, checking is done that needed ingredients are on the premises, and dough - or some preliminary stage of it - is started at the proper time. Avoiding starting too late, whereupon I am sleepy and lazy, is a key concern. The one task I have attended to is feeding the starter on time. 

Something else to incorporate into the schedule, though it only takes a few minutes and a lovely piece of equipment, is grinding my own flour. This goes toward starting before laziness sets in, toward deciding on the next bread by Thursday evening, taking out the starter on Friday evening or Saturday morning, and generally beginning the next dough on Saturday afternoon or evening.

Ritual and practice
Like religion, study, exercise, or anything to be taken seriously in life, bread requires presence in the moment and rituals - even homespun, just-for-me rituals - to support a practice. It is a Sabbath unto itself in the pause and preparation called for. Rushing, multi-tasking, and fitting something in when one can least take a breath and pay attention will not do. Bread now asks more of my time, particularly in the timing and quality of that time. 

How important is bread anyway?
Dust does not go well with bread. It just doesn't. I do not want to even start a dough with the fine layer of construction debris everywhere. So, there it was on the cusp of July Fourth and there was no bread for the guests, no sour cream in the house to mix the coffee cake batter. But soon we will have new cabinets and countertops and a chalkboard pantry door.

I've no mind right now for organizing and schedules. Family needs attending to, the dog is growing old, and a dear friend's son was just killed in an accident. How's that for making bread seem small and unimportant?

Death intrudes
A lovely, promising boy - okay, young man - of 24 was ripped from this world in the most arbitrary, but expected way. He was killed in a car accident. I say expected because there are so many thousands of these accidents that they are completely foreseeable, not each in particular, but that they will occur. One moment, he was there, and the next not. A dividing line forever for his parents and his brother, and the truck driver as well who was on the other side of the crash.

I know what it is like to lose someone in an instant. A punch to the gut that lingers on. An unwelcome shadow who lurks beside us for months or years. And so much more so for my friend, who lost a child.

And the kitchen
Soon we will not feel like our sweet contractor is living with us. The shelf and drawer liners will be in; pots, pans, dishes, glasses and all else will again be in place. But, honestly, I don't know where I will be. This is a time for doubt and I am avoiding the making of bread.

Monday, June 22, 2015

First Tries Grinding Grain

Here I am, grinding my own grains, virtually on the cusp of living off the grid; well, not quite. I have no plans to buy and store a years worth of foods. But the advantages of grinding your grains extends beyond the possibility of extreme self-reliance. The aroma of the grain, wheat, so far, for me, is amazing. The taste, even on the two pretty mediocre-looking breads I've made, has been fantastic. 

The home mill is lovely, a testament to German ingenuity and skilled manufacturing. No snide remarks; the Germans excel in efficient, organized design. Just a few tips, however. 
(1) Be sure to put the bowl under the shoot. This is obvious, yes, but rushing around or lack of sleep can turn one second of forgetfulness into a kitchen mess.  
(2) Pay attention. Do not walk into another room; do not wash dishes. The bowl underneath the chute that is delivering the freshly ground flour must be continually or pretty frequently turned. Basically, the flour will pile up in one spot and overflow quickly. So turn the bowl and lightly pat down the fresh flour as the grinding continues.
(3) Be ready for less predictability. Flour companies can test the grain and flour to make sure the protein levels and other indicators stay consistent across most batches. When you purchase wheat, rye and other grain berries, and grind them at home, however, your freshly-milled flour may exhibit a broader range in terms of moisture absorption, protein levels, etc., that will affect dough development. This will require somewhat more attention to a specific dough and less heeding of strict recipe instructions.
So excited
Totally excited and nervous to use the new grain mill. Felt like I was stepping onto another planet or diving yet deeper into the bread universe. No question the taste was ramped up, a whole new level of flavor is achievable with freshly-milled grains. Maybe this is all fantasy and it is merely the aroma of the flour that magically produced in one's kitchen. Who cares? The experience of baking and eating the bread is improved. If this is a placebo, as it were, then so be it.

This bread was 65 percent, approximately, whole wheat. The hydration percentage was 79 percent, which was, frankly, too high for how I developed the dough and baked it. But the taste was still fantastic.

302g whole wheat flour
203g water
5g salt

Mix and cover. Leave out for a few to 24 hours. I left mine out for seven hours. After seven hours, this soaker was like an autolyse with developed gluten strands and requiring of much muscle to incorporate the starter later on.

100g starter (110-120 percent hydration, using all-purpose flour)
100g water
100g bread flour

Mix and cover. Leave out until nice and bubbly. My kitchen was about 75 to 80 degrees and this process took about seven hours. The kitchen would have been over 80 degrees for most of the duration, but someone else in the household was displeased with early morning summer heat and turned on the air conditioner.

5g salt

Mix the dough and cover. I did three stretch and folds at 20 to 40-minute intervals. I let the dough rise for three hours, but I'm not really sure if it needed a little less time. 

Baking preparation
I did a stretch and fold on the wet counter and with wet hands due to the - you got it - wet dough. Left the dough, covered, to rest for 15 minutes and preheated the oven to 475 degrees with the dutch oven inside. During the 15 minutes, I also greased a bowl with oil and sprinkled flour and sesame seeds on the bottom.

After the 15-minute rest, I shaped the dough, as much as a wet dough could be shaped, and placed it, seam side up, in the oiled and floured bowl.

Baking time was only 36 minutes because this was a small loaf. 

Incredible taste. A level beyond any 60 percent whole grain I've made from store- or farners'-market-bought flour. However, because I made such a small loaf, the dutch oven was really too big. It could have used a little side support. 

Now, to get myself to finish up the store-bought flours in the freezer and move on completely to grinding my own. I might throw away the completely mediocre whole wheat flour I have from a major flour manufacturer.

Now that I've been to a whole new land, as it were, cannot go back.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Intimate Look at Steam in the Oven

See postscript below for additional suggestions from freshloaf members.

Last night, I ruined a perfectly good dough, a dough waiting to turn into a beautiful bread, by forgetting to provide steam. The bread turned out flat and sad, like an emoticon in gray with a frown and tired eyes. This was a valuable lesson because it is pretty simple to make sure that the oven has steam, in fact, steam sufficient to fool your dough into feeling like it is baking in a professional oven or even a backyard brick oven or in an oven reminiscent of the Roman ovens.

This can get expensive. Easier strategies involve some money, but there are alternatives.

Buy a baking stone or use oven-safe tiles to put the dough (or parchment paper) on. I have heard of using a baking sheet, preferably with parchment paper, but my breads improved significantly when I started using a baking stone. The bottoms of your breads will be equivalent to that produced by the best bakeries.

Perhaps this did not fit in a "steam" essay, but it has to do with crust and, further, what will go on the stone, if anything. I consider a baking stone a must. It needs little cleaning and no other maintenance. Just preheat before baking and keep it in the oven until it cools down. I generally just leave mine in.

Pay the money, about $60, and buy a la cloche. The Wild Yeast blog has instructions to make a DIY la cloche top that will cost a lot less than buying one. Advantage: You get a Roman oven within your oven. The clay bell-shaped contraption covers the dough and becomes a small enough oven that the moisture from the one dough is sufficient for nice oven spring. Disadvantage: Only one bread at a time can be baked, versus maybe two to four without such a space-consuming accouterment. The DIY la cloche mentioned above is small enough for two to fit on an oven rack.

I just use the top of the la cloche over the baking stone. The exception is that I sometimes use an oblong la cloche, the top of which also works well over loaf pans to ensure that sandwich breads get a good rise as well.

Dutch ovens
As far as steam, dutch ovens do the same thing as the la cloche. They create a small oven within the oven and use the moisture from the dough to produce oven spring during the first 10 minutes of baking. Four caveats: (1) Check the maximum oven temperature for the dutch oven. Mine has a maximum of 475 degrees, but cast iron ones can go higher. (2) Aim seems to be everything: The dough has to be dropped into an incredibly hot receptacle. I have done terribly at this, getting my dough all over the side of the dutch oven, and somehow the breads and their shapes turned out fine. (3) Put flour, seeds, and/or parchment paper at the bottom of the dough so that it does not get stuck in the dutch oven. If it does, wait a few hours for the dutch oven to cool before fighting to liberate the bread. (4) Be careful. The dutch oven gets way hotter than anything else I've put into my oven at the same temperature. I use an oven mitt and a kitchen towel when handling it. Stay calm, breath, and be confident.

The dutch oven produces magnificent results in turns of steam. It retains heat like nobody's business and, in a very small space, efficiently converts moisture to steam to get a rise out of a dough while it turns into a bread. The only disadvantages are the intense heat and the spacial aspect as only one bread at a time can be baked.

Ice or water
Most bread books recommend that either ice or water be used to produce steam in the oven for those first crucial 10 minutes of bread baking. The advice will be to put a pan on the lower rack, underneath the baking stone. Preheat the pan with the oven before baking. I always preheat for an hour to make sure everything I am using - whether a baking stone, a dutch oven, or whatever - is sufficiently hot when the dough goes in the oven.

Immediately after placing the dough on the baking stone, pour a cup of water or ice cubes into the pan. Quickly close the oven door!!! The quicker the H2O is poured and the oven door is closed, the more steam that stays inside the oven and the more steam available to the dough for a lovely oven spring burst of rising.

The advantage of ice is that it is a solid and easier to throw quickly into the pan. It also will not turn to steam - in your face - as quickly. Water can drip. Be VERY careful not to let the water drip onto the oven door because it can crack the glass. Also, the steam from the water can be dangerously hot. These are the reasons why I have only used ice cubes, which, by the way, work quite well.

Disclaimer: I have not tried this. Just intrigued. Many sources recommend preheating lava rocks, the kind used for barbecue, in a pan. They are available at local hardware stores or Home Depot. Pouring water over the rocks just after putting the dough in the oven provides sauna-quality steam. Some recommend pouring a cup of water right before loading the dough as well. Just google "lava rocks bread" and plenty of information will appear at your fingertips.

Dont' cry; eat
The ending to the ruined bread story is a happy one. The freshly ground whole wheat flour infused the bread that hardly rose with such a good taste that I enjoyed the bread and learned my lesson. The bread was dense and not very pretty, but delicious. 

P.S. Suggestions from the freshloaf that I have not yet tried - go at your own risk
These are quotes from a freshloaf (bread forum) conversation.
Steamed towel strategy -   I can get an oven fully steamed five minutes before the bread goes in and then only need to add 1/2 cup of very hot water to the pan once the bread is loaded onto the baking steel.  The time the oven door is open is minimal and I don't have to remove a heavy, hot cast iron skillet full of lava rocks after the first part of the bake.
I wonder at the safety of putting towels, wet or otherwise, into a hot oven, but there are a few people who have tried this method and they have lived to proclaim its wonders.
Another hot-water-in-the-oven strategy - I find it helpful to preheat the water for two minutes in a Pyrex vessel in a microwave oven before putting it in the oven. It then turns to steam more quickly.
Using an aluminum roasting pan - Inverting an aluminum turkey roasting pan over the loaf "on the stone" with parchment underneath will yield perfect steam results every time (the baking bread creates its own steam).
Spritz the inside of the roasting pan with water before inverting over the loaf - bake the loaf for 10-15 minutes before removing to allow the crust to brown. Cheap roasting pans that come three or four-to-a-pack work great and they're reusable. Center it on the loaf and pooch up the middle of the roaster a bit if your loaf has that much spring (make sure the rim still sits flat on the baking stone's surface).
I love this idea; it's cheap, easy, and requires no hot water or heavy equipment. Plus, unlike my la cloche, with its two long, thin cracks, the roasting pan can be replaced for very little cost and will not fall apart when it goes quickly from hot oven to cold kitchen. Cheap and effective go well together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bakery Review: Bread Furst - A Bread Temple

You know Bread Furst is a temple of bread the second you walk in the door and the overpowering - in a good way - aroma of whole grain breads embraces you. Then you see the kitchen to your left and ahead, with gleaming subway tiles on the way, beautiful breads, not scored in an artful way, but with a look of quintessential hardiness. 

It gets better. 

I chose loaves of whole wheat and ancient grain (teff and rye) boules. Delicious. As good as my own. Maybe better. Jealous that I lack the bakery oven that produced the thick, dark crusts. (Perhaps I should be baking my loaves longer.) I resisted the temptation to purchase a regular or a whole wheat challah; I could not stand to taste a true competitor. We all have our limits. 

I do not know if commercial yeast is used and the website makes no definitive declaration. 

There are also croissants, a muffin or two, and a few pastry selections, I believe, though I was so focused on the bread that I did not pay much attention. There is quite a bit of non-baked food as well and I had a tasty red lentil salad. Also for sale are some jams and cookbooks.

There's also ham, which seems weird when you notice that all of the staff are wearing head coverings more than vaguely reminiscent of Bukharan kippot (quite a different shape than traditional yarmelkes or even the crocheted ones.)

Not a total groupie
Much as Bread Furst smells divine, the look is a bit upscale in keeping with the neighborhood. Nicer than Le Pan Quotidian and not as spacious, but reminiscent of that. After all, this is not Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn. But one thing beyond the aroma did remind me of my New York childhood; the owner, Mark Furstenberg walks around with a perpetual scowl on his face, as though nothing is ever quite good enough. He looks like a waiter at the old Lower East Side (New York) restaurant Ratners. 

If you were lucky enough to frequent that now deceased establishment, may it rest in peace, if you remember the waiters, they had standards of their own and the customer was not always right. Mr. Furstenberg had the same look. This and the fact that he is a bread rock star, bread royalty really, made me way too intimidated and shy to approach him. Plus, he seemed as if the quality of the bread, the cleanliness of the tables and chairs, were way more important than idle conversation.

On the way out, I stared at the mixer and the dough being mixed. I stared at the couches and I sighed. One should be in awe at a temple. One should feel moved. Here, bread is holy.

I will have to return on a weekend to try the bialys. 

One comment, please
Okay, one small criticism. Small cookies should be added to the Bread Furst mix, if only to give 
away one at a time to the little children who come in. Just one tiny step to perfection. 

A plea
I trekked to Bread Furst all the way around the Red Line as if on a pilgrimage on one of my few days off. I built my day around the visit. Dear Mr. Furstenberg, Please open another storefront in Takoma or in Silver Spring. We need this bread, not in my house because I make my own, but all over there are people who are deprived of the delights of your bakery, a real bakery, a bakery that makes one feel nearer to the wheat and grains as they grow out of the ground. 

DC visitors
Forget the monuments; forget the museums; forget the halls of government. When you visit DC, take the Metro Red Line up to Van Ness, walk two blocks and eat at Bread Furst. 

(Also, all vistors should try some Ethiopian food. There is a large Ethiopian community in the DC area and some good restaurants in Silver Spring and on 9th and U.) 

Bread Number 77: A Rye/Flaxseed Meal Virtuoso of a Bread

A top pick
If there is a bread that shows I have learned lessons along the way from bread number zero to 77, this one is it. One word: fantastic. Though I started without all of the ingredients in the recipe from Local Breads, and rejected a couple, my instincts paved the way to an utterly delicious and interesting loaf.

By the way, Daniel Leader, the author of Local Breads, gets a lot of flack in the book reviews about poor editing, inconsistent measures, and bad recipes. One review seemed to sum up the consensus that the book is worthwhile if - and this is perfect for me - the recipes are considered as guides, but not as strict sets of instructions. The reviews also indicated that only the metric weights should be heeded. Another warning was that the bakers percentages are sometimes wholly inaccurate. 

Starting point
I read those reviews after making this bread and as I generally do not strictly follow recipes, all was good in modifying the flax, sesame, sunflower seed, rye recipe. I left out the sunflower seeds altogether and I only used sesame seeds sprinkled on top and not incorporated in the dough. I also added a sponge phase, refused the instruction to do a second kneading, and I did not use a rye starter. So perhaps the recipe was more a starting point than a guide.

Total ingredients
331g water
20g starter 
210g rye flour
290g bread flour
6g caraway seeds (and a bit more to sprinkle on top)
28g flaxseed meal
10g salt
sesame seeds optional for sprinkling on top

101g water
20g starter (all purpose flour, not rye) (Used 50g starter for the second try and adjusted other ingredients accordingly.)
100g rye flour

I juggled the amounts of the ingredients so that I could add a sponge phase and to use as much rye as the 60 percent recipe. I used a small amount of starter due to the very warm night, about 80 degrees in the kitchen. This was my first foray beyond 30 percent rye, perhaps on the way to trying a truly dense rye. 

Here we leave the realm of recipe and enter into reality. I was going to let the sponge stay out all night, but I woke up with a start at 2:30 - six hours after making the sponge - and put the sponge in the fridge. The fright took hold that the sponge would be past peak by morning. Once I took it out, and accounting for the warm up delay, the sponge had a bulk fermentation time of 9.5 hours in a pretty warm kitchen. When I made this bread a second time, the dough fermented for about 12 hours, but the kitchen was about 10 degrees cooler.

230g water
290g bread flour
110g rye flour
28g flaxseed meal
6g caraway seeds (Used 8g the first time, but the caraway might be too overwhelming for some at that amount.)
10g salt
Sesame seeds and caraway seeds - sprinkle on top before baking.

Use what you have
Another departure from the recipe was that I had flaxseed meal and no actual flaxseeds. I used an equal weight and all turned out fine. I also added caraway seeds because I have the misguided notion that it is illegal to make a rye bread without them. That might be the case in Brooklyn. I admit that using a little less caraway for the second try, which was an improvement.

The recipe called for lots of kneading for a rye, so I did half the recommended time. I kneaded for 10 minutes. I also did not add any commercial yeast; the rising time ended up being about two hours longer than recommended. Mine rose for 3.5 hours both times I made this.

Trust your instincts
For about a nanosecond, I followed the recipe instructions instead of my instincts by just starting to sprinkle flour over the wet dough before shaping. A loud voice in my head screamed out "STOP!" as the first glop of dough began to stick to my fingers. Confident that voice was as it continued to instruct using water instead, which worked out much better; no sticking at all. Worked quite well with water the second time around as well.

I sprinkled water on the counter and my hands for a fuss-free shaping and transfer of the dough to a loaf pan. This dough was not going to hold any shape on its own. I also ignored the instructions that this dough should make two loaves and I made one decent-sized, not actually that large, loaf. Cover the loaf pan with plastic, or, in my case, a shower cap.

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees for an hour while the dough rests. I also preheated the top of the oblong la cloche because it kind of, sort of fits over the loaf pan. The top of the la cloche keeps the moisture in and, therefore, frees the baker from having to throw water or ice cubes into a pan when the oven is burning hot.

At one hour, the dent test passed as much as is possible with a wet dough, it was time for baking. I sprinkled water on top and then sprinkled sesame and caraway seeds. 

Oven time at 400 degrees was 47 minutes, two of which were uncovered. 

For the second go around, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees and immediately reduced the temperature to 400 when the dough went in. Somewhat more oven spring resulted.

Hello beautiful
Next to the word "gorgeous" in the dictionary should be a photograph of this bread. And taste - amazing. Total agreement on this in the household. A top pick, to be sure.