Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lovebird Loaf

There is a bread to be made for every occasion and this one would do nicely for an anniversary brunch or an engagement buffet. But it would also do fine for everyday as it can be scored in myriads of ways. Under its fancy collar, it is just a regular miche. For the stencil, I used an old ornament given to me by one of my friends, scoring around it.
I used rye in it and some of the marvelous high-extraction organic flour that Steve, from Bread cetera, brought me a few weeks ago. This flour is difficult to get (you may have to go through a restaurant that bakes its own bread or a restaurant supply store) and may be replaced by sifted whole wheat bread (although I can't vouch for that since I have not tried it yet).
The dough was mixed directly in the bread machine but I hovered over it when the mixing started as I am not very familiar with this flour and wasn't sure how it would absorb water. I actually had to add some all-purpose unbleached flour (about 100 g) as the dough was too wet and sticky at the start to even start holding together. If using other flour, you may not need to adjust that much.
The recipe is loosely based on the miche formula which was given to me this winter during the second workshop I attended at the San Francisco Baking Institute.
This bread is made over three days. It cooled overnight in the kitchen as I baked it late in the evening and I was afraid the design on it would crack from the cold but it only did on the edges. Winter is really over! It is definitely time for the birds to come out...


For the first feeding:

  • 53 g high-extraction flour 
  • 64 g water
  • 5,3 g mother starter
  • 0.42 g salt

For the levain: 

  • 247 g high-extraction flour
  • 297 g water
  • 123 g first feeding
  • 1,5 g salt

For the final dough:

  • 175 g all-purpose unbleached flour (+ more as needed - see above)
  • 58 g high-extraction flour
  • 58 g dark rye flour
  • 29 g water
  • 11 g salt
  • 670 g levain

  1. On the first day, prepare the first feeding and let rest overnight at room temperature
  2. On the second day, prepare the levain using all of the first feeding and let rest up to 12 hours at room temperature
  3. At the end of that day, mix the final dough either by hand or using a standing mixer or in the bread machine, watching closely to see whether or not more flour is needed (it definitely was in my case)
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl or bucket and let it ferment through the night in the refrigerator
  5. On the third day, in the morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come back to life at room temperature. It may take quite a while. When mine came out of the refrigerator, it had barely moved since the night before. It rose slowly throughout the day
  6. When the dough has doubled in volume and the imprint of your finger doesn't bounce back right away, take it out of the bowl or bucket and pre-shape it loosely into a boule (ball)
  7. Let it rest 20 minutes under the inverted bucket or bowl
  8. Shape into a ball and place on a prepared parchment paper (sprinkled with all-purpose or semolina flour)
  9. Stick into a clear plastic bag, blow in the bag and tie securely
  10. Let rise for about an hour and a half
  11. Take the dough out and score (and/or stencil it)
  12. Then transfer it to a Dutch oven using the paper as a sling and taking care not to deflate the dough
  13. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place in the oven
  14. Turn the oven on (470 F/243 C) and bake for 45 minutes
  15. Take the loaf out of the Dutch oven and place in the oven again on the baking stone (if using) or on a cookie sheet. If you can't remove the parchment paper without damaging the bread, leave it under the bread
  16. Lower the temperature to 440 and bake another 15 minutes (tent some foil over the top of the bread if needed to avoid overbrowning)
  17. Take the bread out of the oven. Its internal temperature (as measured on an instant thermometer) should be over 205 F/96 C. If it hasn't reached that, bake a few more minutes
  18. Let cool on a rack before slicing
This bread will be submitted to Susan, from Wild Yeast, for Yeastspotting.


  1. A beautifully decorated loaf! It would be an ideal loaf to bake for Valentine's Day.

  2. Absolutely beautifully decorated, I agree with Steve! With what kind of cutter/knife/blade? do you score your bread so neatly around the stencil? How to be sure the stencil doesn't stick to the dough? I would'nt dare try it at home.
    At the SFBI, did they use that method of putting the Dutch oven in a cold oven and then bake the bread for 45-60 min?
    You wrote "10. Let rise for about 1hr30". Why "about"? Did you take it out just because the dough looked OK?
    Sorry for all those questions ;-)

  3. Thank you, Steve and Flo!
    Yes, this loaf would be great for Valentine's Day! I'll have to remember it next year.
    Flo, I always do the scoring with a small cutter as it is what works best for me. You can never be sure the stencil won't stick to the dough. This time, it did, a little bit, but I lifted gently and it came off.
    No, they never used the Dutch oven method at SFBI and never baked straight in a cold oven. But they were very interested when I told them that it was what I did, most of the time anyway.
    It is very convenient, cheaper and greener, plus it works beautifully, so why not? But it cannot be done on a large scale in a professional setting, which is presumably the reason they don't do/teach it at SFBI.
    I wrote "about 1 h 30" because it may take a while longer if the kitchen is really cold, or less if it gets warmer. I do the fingerprint test and it springs back slowly, then it's ready.
    Bisous too!

  4. That high-extraction miche formula is one of my favorites. You have dressed the loaf up so beautifully here, really outdone yourself!

  5. Farine that loaf is a work of art, just pure beautiful.

  6. Beautifully decoration and scoring and great looking crumb!
    I'd take a slice or three!

  7. This is a work of art so beautiful that I would hesitate to eat it - for at least a minute. Very, very nice.

  8. This bread is so beautiful!
    The ornament is perfect and crumb looks very nice, too!



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