ye olde bread blogge

bread, coffee and tidbits

2007 – a year in bread

with 8 comments


The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve feel like a magical promise to me and give time to get philosophical about life. Since I am not a philosopher, I never get far with that. Perhaps resolutions are not a good thing anyway. As Goethe wrote in 1821:

A pool was once congeal’d with frost.
The frogs, in its deep waters lost,
no longer dared to croak or spring,
but promised, being half asleep,
if suffer’d to the air to creep,
as very nightingales to sing.
A thaw dissolved the ice so strong,–
they proudly steer’d themselves along.
When landed, squatted on the shore,
and croak’d as loudly as before.

(English approximation of the original)

And the original:

Ein großer Teich war zugefroren
Die Fröschlein, in der Tiefe verloren,
durften nicht ferner quaken noch springen,
versprachen sich aber im halben Traum:
fänden sie nur da oben Raum,
wie Nachtigallen wollten sie singen. –
Der Tauwind kam, das Eis zerschmolz;
nun ruderten sie und landeten stolz
und saßen am Ufer weit und breit
und quakten wie vor alter Zeit.

The most memorable bread moment was probably an insight about baguettes. If an open crumb is desired, the way to achieve this does not solely depend on the use of a starter such as poolish or levain. The following picture shows the interior of a baguette made from a recipe in “Local Breads” by Daniel Leader (Read about it here).

Bulk fermentation was 1.5 hours. Dough was shaped with an extremely light hand, and that made all the difference. I would call this a good result. Flour used: German Type 550.

But my all-time favorite white dough is probably the baguette dough by Eric Kayser. The French master baker likes to add 20% of liquid levain and keeps fermentation times short as well.

(2 loaves made with a dough Eric-Kayser-style)

Then there was a return to simplicity in my bread kitchen. When I started to bake bread, I thought every bread had to be made with a starter and needed an extra long fermentation. But as mentioned above the quality of the flour, the water and the mechanics of shaping dough seem equally or even more important.

(A toast bread made by a direct method)

Whole-spelt flour nearly broke my will this year. It turned out I have to be picky about choosing the right kind of flour and stay away from the cheaper stuff. Flour is inexpensive even at 3 Euros a kilo. Whole-spelt bakes to a rather dry bread. The key was to make a very wet dough.

(A spelt loaf with oats)

My bread books of the year. Difficult. Bread books are rare and most authors bend under the weight of the subject, or rather its complexity. How did we learn to ride our bicycles? Not by reading a book.

Richard Bertinet’s “Dough” was a necessary reminder that simple bread can be extraordinary bread.

Dan Lepard’s “The handmade loaf” and “Baking With Passion” are only physically falling apart and have been a source of pleasure and knowledge.

Daniel Leader’s “Local Breads” gives us a glimpse into European bakeries. True love for bread is visible through Daniel Leader’s writing. But a subject can also suffer under the love of its author (and the absence of a good editor). We can still be grateful that books like these exist.

Enough already. I wish you a good 2008 and everything you wish me.

Written by theinversecook

30 December 2007 at 05:17

8 Responses

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  1. Ich danke dir für deine sehr interessanten und inspirierenden Beiträge im vergangenen Jahr. Und ich freue mich schon auf die im neuen Jahr! Alles Gute für 2008!

    Petra aka Cascabel

    31 December 2007 at 01:08

  2. Danke, Petra! Dir auch ein schönes Neues.


    31 December 2007 at 14:22

  3. I am happy to say that I am baking today, for tomorrow! New dough from the last yeat to the new! The bread today is a flax seed and old bread soaker from J, Hammelman, as well his levain he taught me to make at a class in Vermont!
    Thanks for all your great efforts and inspiration!

    Happy New Year!



    31 December 2007 at 18:20

  4. Thanks, Jeremy. A toast to you and Happy New Year.

    (I just made a pain au levain too.)


    31 December 2007 at 20:30

  5. Shut up already and bake some bloody bread Nils, the new year is here, and have three loaves at the ready,my teachers sort of mixed wheat loaf, a chestnut loaf and a siegle aux raisin et noix!

    Need some inspiration from your hallowed halls!

    J ; )


    6 January 2008 at 08:17

  6. For he’s a jolly … ok. Bread. Roger that. Three? Good start!

    I just got a new baking book with the title “Brot backen” written by an Austrian baker named Stöckl. I am currently making a recipe from it. Will post about it later.



    6 January 2008 at 18:24

  7. Oh hooooo! Ich liege gerade flach, das ganze tolle Brot hat mich schlags umgehauen. Und auch die zukünftigen Brote (die ich schon gesehen habe…) sind ja, ach, mir fehlen die Worte. Ich schließe mich Petra an und freue mich auf die Ergebnisse in diesem Jahr!


    19 January 2008 at 22:17

  8. Umgehauen? So groß und schwer wie es aussieht, ist es gar nicht :-) Eine Variation des 60/40-Themas für Roggenmischbrote, übrigens. Nach altbewährtem Rezept.

    vG, Nils


    20 January 2008 at 20:16

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