Monday, June 9, 2008

Central Park Party Spelt

Nothing about Sunday was normal. Scorching heat, pouring rain, and armies of French bulldogs* in Central Park.

However, we had a collegiate get-together in spite of the strange circumstances. No party is really a party without any bread, so I whipped up an experimental spelt loaf for the occasion. Luckily, the partiers were hungry. Unfortunately for the blogosphere, I only have a photo of this bread in its very final stage:

So, there you have it. The recipe was as follows:

1 cup full-hydration sourdough starter
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup water (I felt that my starter was kinda dry, so I added a couple tablespoons of water)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup whole oats (for later)

1) Mix flours and salt in a big plastic bowl. Then, mix in starter and water. I did this rather unceremoniously, as I had to be at a gig shortly after mixing this, and thus was in a hurry.

2) Cover it, and let it hang out overnight. You could probably do this in the fridge if you wanted to wait for longer than 10-12 hours.

3) After 10-12 hours, stretch and fold the bread a few times and let it proof for 10-20 minutes.

4) Then, chafe the loaf for a good 3-4 minutes. Flip the chafed loaf on to a hard and smooth surface covered with oatmeal, and flip it again on to a flour-dusted piece of parchment. The oaty side should be up. Cover it with a tea cloth.

5) Let the loaf rise for about an hour, then bake it. It should be a little less than fully risen, but I guarantee you'll get some craaaaazy oven spring out of this thing.

6) Heat up your baking stone/tiles/whatever to 450 degrees for ten minutes, then turn heat down to 425 and let it cook until the loaf is wonderfully browned. Do the usual tap test.

7) Let it cool, find a park, have a party.

Many odd occurrences led to this recipe. My cooking equipment is scattered around the nation, for one, so I'm stuck using what's in my apartment for the time being. We only have 1-cup measures and a half-teaspoon measure, but luckily, the two measuring devices here are from the same line as my mother's. I had a recipe along these lines written down in my notebook, and remembered from past improvisations that I could certainly whip something up, even with these limited tools.

More (and less haphazard) recipes to come.

*bulldog photo from flickr.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Baguette Challenge!

Okay, so I've moved to NYC for the summer. Now that things are starting to settle down, I can start baking again. YES. Birthing a new starter is first on the list of necessary tasks.

A thought occurred to me this morning while shaving. I should hold a baguette recipe challenge! The idea is as follows.

1. Collect baguette recipes that have worked well for me in the past (Peter Reinhart's standard French bread recipe, Julia Child's baguettes, pain a l'ancienne, my own recipe as described earlier on the blog).

2. Assemble a panel of judges who are familiar with baguettes, and generally familiar with the French Touch.

3. Gather a modest selection of cheese and wine, to give the bread-eaters some incentive beyond the loaves alone.

4. Calculate rising times and proofing times such that all loaves may be baked at once.

5. Find a Friday night where everyone is free (I don't have work or class during the day, so I can spend the whole day baking), bake, test, and voila! We can work together to find the best recipe.

Okay, time to run to class.