Time for a New Tack

Disappointment.  There’s my one-word summary of the rustic bread I cut open last night.  From the outside, it had so much promise:  big bubbles, deep brown crust.  But the crumb was tight and uniform.  And it didn’t have enough salt.

So.  I’m going back to some original recipes and a bunch of books to see how rustic bread is made.  Even more importantly, I’m trying to redefine what rustic bread means to me.  I like the structure of the Team USA ciabatta.  I like the country-style crust and flavor of the Cook’s Illustrated rustic.


The crackly crust of the no-knead would be nice.


And I want well-formed grigne too.


There must be a way to get all of this.  First, I learned that I should be letting my poolish sit out overnight and really ferment.  I need to coax more rich flavor out of it, since the rustic I had last night had surprisingly little taste.  I will do a lot more autolyse and really work to get a strong windowpane.  Also I’m going to let the dough triple on the first proof instead of doubling.  For the second proof, I’m going to go back to using a banneton, and I won’t be afraid of high heat in the oven.  I don’t know whether I’ll try the crockpot again or see if I can get a good crust with the steam pan.  Either way, it’s time for some change.  No more mediocre rustic bread!

Last night I made a whole wheat sandwich, a multigrain sandwich, and some cinnamon raisin.  Here is the whole wheat and the cinnamon. 


Picture 196Picture 197

I think they turned out pretty well.  I am getting better at forming good loaves (heh heh) and the new oven does a better job of radiating heat from all directions and really browning the crust well.  In between proofing and kneading, I caught some old Julia Child shows on DVD.  First off, it’s impossible to not dance when the theme song comes on (skip to the last 45 seconds or so).  It’s catchy, no?

She was making some enriched breads, pain de mie and raisin bread.  The woman obviously knew her way around bread.  As soon as she got to kneading, I was enthralled.  She wielded a scraper in one hand and lifted and slapped with the other, quickly getting gluten formed in a very wet enriched dough.  Holy crap!  I hadn’t thought of doing it that way, using a scraper all the time.  I just wrestle with the sticky dough and get frustrated.  Thanks, Julia!


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Writer, architect, father, husband.

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4 comments on “Time for a New Tack
  1. Babs says:

    The word shouldn't be "disappointment". It should be "hmmm"–"Now what happened here?" It's all a learning experience–not disappointment. Besides–most of us need a translation book for half of those terms so you're already ahead of all the rest of us!

  2. Crissy Po says:

    The bread tasted delicious!

  3. Crissy Po says:

    Have I ever told you that when I studied abroad I took some cooking classes and one of the things we learned was how to make Tarte Tatin? Thanks for the link and for helping me get that theme tune stuck in my head. Again ; )

  4. psoutowood says:

    I would not be unhappy if you made Tarte Tatin. :-))

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