It's 8:30 a.m. and I have a challah dough almost ready for braiding, a sponge sitting on the counter - made this morning - and the flour for that dough ground and protected in the freezer in a ziplock bag. I'll come home late this afternoon from the husband's minor surgery and finish that dough. The challah will be baked and cooling off by 10.
Just because I have not been working on this blog does not mean an absence of home-baked bread. I've been so busy with research and projects at work, so accustomed to and in the rhythm of making favorite breads, so procrastinating - oh yes - the upcoming challah challenge to finish up the 108, that writing here has taken a seat way back in the bus.
For you, my writing lady pals
From time to time during monthly dinners and writing critiques that are the rituals of the Blockheads, my writing group, I keep my pals up to date on the 108-bread project. They have been known to bite into and enjoy the fruits of this quest. About a month ago, they laid down a challenge. That challenge was to make a bread dedicated to them, a bread especially for them. But of course.
Four of us and 88 the next number - kismet. I would make a bread with four kinds of grains and two kinds of seeds and enjoy the mathematical loveliness of the number 88. Perhaps something took exactly 11 minutes along the way. Really not sure.
I bought whole wheat, rye, spelt, and farro berries, which can be used to make food other than bread, though I have not yet tried any of those. I made my usual sponge, described below, used my flour mill machine (a piece of genius), and mixed up a dough with a wonderful aroma. I added caraway and sesame seeds. Next to my much-loved rye bread, I think this one is my favorite. And I am so glad that my writing pals supplied the idea. I dedicate this bread to them.
To Rose, Jill, and Franca: Women whose writing I always look forward to reading, whose company I enjoy, and whose analyses give food for thought.
This post is long overdue. I did the first try of bread #88 back in February and a second try three weeks ago. This is the recipe for the second try, which turned out to be a super delicious bread, at least to my happy taste buds.
100g starter (100 percent hydration)
200g bread flour
I let the sponge rest for 10.5 hours in the kitchen.
150g whole wheat flour
84g spelt flour
40g rye flour
26g farro flour
4g sesame seeds (plus more for the top of dough when baking)
4g caraway seeds (plus more for the top of dough when baking)
All of the whole-grain flours were freshly milled by my brilliant German flour milling machine.
Stretch and folds and resting
Yes, I've become blase, I do things somewhat by rote, but that's because I've succeeded already in this 108-bread quest. I've learned so much that I'm not thinking,pondering, considering every move. I've discovered good moves that work well and just need monitoring.
Usually I do four stretch and folds, each separated by 15 to 30 minutes. This time I did three. The dough was ready; it had a decent amount of rye and spelt, which do not seem to require as much manipulation. Sometimes the best instinct is to stop. I did three stretch and folds at 20 minutes apart. I slightly and quickly shaped the dough.
I put the dough bowl, covered, in the fridge for 24 hours. When I put the dough there, it was almost 7:30, a perfect time to bake the next evening.
Baking with rye and spelt
I did not go super high on the oven temperature here because of the rye and spelt, which, I've read and observed on breadtopia videos, do well significantly below 500 degrees. I preheated the oven - with the baking stone and top of la cloche inside - at 480 degrees.
I shaped the dough, sprinkled on some water, and then sprinkled more sesame and caraway seeds on top. I also made an X-slash on top. I admit that I have not gotten at all creative on that part.
Upon putting the dough in the oven, I turned down the temperature to 460 degrees. At 15 minutes in, I turned it down further, to 440 degrees. I turned it off completely at 37 minutes. (That's a result of a previous mistake that ended up being spectacular.)
Total baking time: 42 minutes.
Taste: Fantastic. One of my favorites. Everyone seemed to like it.
End note: I have to get back to putting in photographs. I miss the visual element. I like looking at bread and slices photos.