A Stir The Pots Post

Levain de pomme de terre au travail

by | Apr 23, 2008 | Bread

Susan at wild yeast is making me
painfully aware of some of my lazy baking habits. She inspires and
cajoles some marvelous examples of bread some make me…hmmm… envious
or just has me drooling uncontrollably on my keyboard! Her bread baking
is well plain fabulous, so I was aiming to see if I could follow her
rendition of a Jeffrey Hamelman Norwich levain. Above all I especially have been dying to perfect Susan’s amazing Couronne Bordelaise. I even went as far as to order a banneton from France. 

I mention Susan because she reminds me of something that happened last week. It was inspired by a recent forum discussion on Graham Prichard’s site, about terms in baking. Bread
is basically three elements; water, flour and salt generally speaking,
and in this mish mash world with all sorts of European baking terms
thrown into Americas baking renaissance there is a whole bunch of
anxious home bakers kinda following a myriad of methods and techniques
like a bad diet! This of course includes yours truly, not because I
don’t know how to bake. It’s just that I want to bake all the time and
all kinds of flours,starters and formulas are racing in my head. This
brings up adding fruits, vegetables or what other matter into the mix
of creating a leaven.

So later in the week, ignoring orthodoxy, (John Downes,
cursing me!) I started a loaf by following standard equal 1.1
flour-water, except I threw in a patate! (Potato), grated 5 oz and
topped off the rest with water to make 8 oz total and added to it 8 oz
flour, let sit 24 hours, and waited….Next day not a lot of movement
but I persevered and fed the beast, removing 3/4 of the leaven, adding
in the same amount of flour and water…this time the leaven sat over a
two day period as we were closed on the weekend. On Monday I looked at
the blob bubbling in my bucket, thinking "it’s alive!" My breakfast
cook looked at me like I was nuts and made a face at the gooey looking
monster. I fed it again, and then again that evening. I figured if I am
working all these hours and my breads have been less than perfect let
me see what I can do while at work, monitoring and gaining my baking
prowess again!

The next morning I went on the net to look for a dough to make, Nils my Aachen baking friend, had one of Dan Lepard’s breads on view,
a friendly oat and apple bread. With minimal range in flour, I set to
task and realized it was going to be tricky to perform this baking feat
with service looming! What came out of this first attempt wasn’t the
cleanest of breads, but it made me consider feeding the leaven a bit
more so it could get some strength, yesterday I looked up the Norwich
levain and proceeded to knead, rise, and fold all in between lunch
service. Realizing a problem of baking the same day I proceeded to
shape and leave the dough to proof about 1.5 hours and retarded it over
night. Et voila! Success, at last, tasty and well felt marvelous about
not having to rush home during an afternoon break to see if I can make
a decent loaf work then get back for another dinner rush. Thanks Susan,
Nils, Graham, for making me less lazy and appreciate baking like I
really know how!





  1. Susan

    You did good, patate or not 😉

  2. Nils

    What a healthy looking sourdough loaf, Jeremy. Yes, Susan’s breads are always great to behold.
    Will try retarding a couple of sourdough loaves too, soon. I would like my rye breads to be a little more sour.

  3. Jeremy

    Susan, I just made some pistolets, flutes or whatever you want to call them with your Norwich dough they have little points. Love the idea you used anise with your currant bread, it’s a favorite of mine.
    Nils, rye more sour, hmmm, will be watching for developments. Good to see you have given in to the sunflowers!


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