Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Bread Story




Naturally Leavened Pain de "Simcha"

100g high protein bread flour
50g hard whole wheat flour (atta flour)
50g rosh hashanah starter (explained below)
1 (heavy) pinch salt
100g water
1 tbsp oil (to work the dough and grease the bowl)

Add enough water to the dry ingredients to make a moist dough. I went for 150g flour to 100g water, which was just nice. Then I let everything rise for 7 hours, overnight, until it was really, really, risen. Then I shaped the bread into a round (is it a boule?) and did a cross-slice in the middle. It is sitting on a tray, spread generously with cornmeal, and rising at this moment in the toaster oven.
Yes, that's right. I hate heating up the huge oven to do crafted breads, because the temperature requirements I am afraid will sky-rocket the electricity bill. So I make tiny loaves, and do them in my parents' really  lovely, new Panasonic toaster oven that has temperature adjustments and gives me the perfect crispy crust and well-done insides I desire, at about 220C and below.
This is the first time I have scored the bread, because before, I never had a knife or razor sharp enough not to completely botch the surface. Now, I received a Swiss deboning knife for my birthday. It is sharp and flexible, and made my first beautiful (but very imperfect) score. But I am happy, and oh-so-pleased.


The Starter
 The starter is a big of a strange experiment, a cocktail of natural yeast (fermentation of raisins, sugar, and water), alcohol, and solid fermented fruit parts.
1) The first step, was me experimenting with natural yeast starters and raisins. Using the raisin yeast water, I attempted to multiply it alla' sourdough without the  sour part. But it turned sour. I hate sour! Sourdough has been a big failure for me, and I have attempted to eat almost all of the mishaps and i do not wish to do so again.

2) The second step was me giving up temporarily on using the raisin yeast water for bread- so let is be wine. I kept adding cordial to the raisin water, and sugar, and syrup. I brewed and fermented wine.
3) Meanwhile, the raisins used for the wine sat at the back of the fridge, still full of yeast.
4) One fine day, it was Rosh Hashanah 2012 and i wanted to try and make Rosh Hashanah charoset, which is basically apples and honey and wine, without the nuts. So I chopped an apple, added it to the fermented raisins, added some honey, added some watermelon fiber (strained out of fresh juice) and doused it with my blackcurrant cordial wine. And I went on a holiday, so I took it along to eat.
5) It so happened, that with all the bubbling yeast activity, I did not attempt to eat the charoset. So it came back home with me. I took it home, and blended it with water, and added flour, and voila - it is a yeast starter. It is stiff, and purplish in color. It is made of the oddest things, really, but it is a really effective starter. Several experiments with this has yielded bread with a delicious crumb and subtle aroma.

The beautiful yeast did it's work
So that's why I call with my Rosh Hashanah starter, because I started it on Rosh Hashanah. And I finally baked it into a proper bread with weight ingredients and everything, after Simchat Torah. So it is Pain de "Simcha".

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