Tartine Bread Experiment’s City Bread In Light Spelt: An Act Of Love, A Thing Of Beauty

All right. This feels almost like a coming out. Yes, I have a secret. And it has to do with me “secretly” exchanging correspondence with another fellow food blogger. No, not ANY fellow food blogger. Another bread-nerd fellow food blogger. Actually, I have been writing with plenty of fellow food bloggers and some of them are bread nerds like me. But this very bread nerd, or in nicer terms a virtuous of home bread baking, did something which I will never forget. Getting curious? (SCROLL DOWN FOR THE COMPLETE STORY AND BREAD METHOD – anche in italiano).

city bread in light spelt

I am talking of Francis-Olive, the soul behind Tartine Bread Experiment (check her blog out if you haven’t done it yet, it’s one of the best bread baking blogs around). A few months ago, I was complaining that my new oven was a true disappointment. The maximum temperature is so low that it is almost impossible to get a proper oven spring. Francis-Olive had on her side both a very hot oven and a combo cooker. Which is, a double cast iron skillet. This behaves like a dutch oven, creating, indeed, another oven in the oven and allowing the bread to get the steam it needs from its own humidity. Chad Robertson thought of this method to allow home bakers to get bakery perfect bread. But it was only thanks to Tartine Bread Experiment’s blog that I got hooked and started to fancy having a combo cooker myself. Too bad: NOT ONLY I had a crappy oven BUT ALSO I could not get a proper combo cooker in Sweden. And then the miracle happened.

Guess what? Francis-Olive went totally off her way and offered to buy the combo cooker for me in the US and ship it to my address in Sweden. Do you have any idea of how heavy a double cast iron skillet is? Well, this woman I have never met or talked to in person went twice (the first time she forgot to take my address) to the post office carrying a 15 pounds parcel just to enable me, a total stranger, to make better bread. Can you believe how crazy nice she is?

To thank her, I promised to make one of her loaves using the combo cooker. I chose her recently posted City Bread In Light Spelt which I believe is one of her best loaves ever. I was a little concerned about the outcome. After all, my oven is still what it is and we use different flours and… WOW. The bread was a total success. The combo a success even with my lower initial temperature and Francis-Olive’s method a foolproof bread making wand.

Questo post e’ dedicato ad un’altra blogger con la passione del pane, Francis-Olive di Tartine Bread Experiment. Per ripagarla del suo atto generoso, rifacendo una delle sue creazioni migliori. Quale atto generoso? Senza conoscermi affatto, ha aquistato per me negli States e mi ha spedito un pesantissimo combo cooker (due padelle in ferro massiccio) in cui si puo’ cucinare il pane con risultati eccellenti – e’ come un forno nel forno.

 

CITY BREAD IN LIGHT SPELT adapted from Tartine Bread Experiment

Makes two loaves – Dosi per due pani

DAY ONE (Thursday for me) – PRIMO GIORNO (giovedi’ per me)

Instead of leaving my starter alone for 12 hours, I aimed to feed it three times a day, as suggested by Francis-Olive (just like in the classic method for panettone!!!). I ended up feeding the starter 4 times in a day: it was truly hyperactive (I will call it the Tartine Bread Experiment Effect)

9-10 pm: prepare the levain using 74 g starter, 222 g dark rye flour, 222 g water

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Si comincia rinfrescando il tuo lievito liquido (100 g lievito+100 g acqua+100g farina) 3 volte in un solo giorno (come nel panettone!!!). Io ho finito per rinfrescarlo 4 volte, era iperattivo.

ore 9-10 di sera: fai l’ultimo rinfresco con 74 g lievito, 222 g farina di segale, 222 acqua

DAY TWO (Friday for me) – SECONDO GIORNO (venerdi’ per me)

Make the dough with: 518 g levain, 544 g water, 440 g light spelt flour and 660 g all-purpose flour* (Francis-Olive uses 550 g light spelt+550 g bread flour), 24 g sea salt.

*in Sweden we cannot find light spelt alone. It is always mixed with all-purpose flour in a 40/60 percentage. If you live in Sweden, use 1100 g of this flour.

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Fai l’impasto con: tutto il lievito (518 g), 734 g acqua, 440 g farina di farro chiara, 660 g farina 00, 24 g sale (ma non aggiungerlo subito)

9:30 am: Mix the dough by hand without adding the salt yet, then autolyse for 1 hour (which means, let it be, covered, for 1 hour)

10:30 am: Add the salt and mix a little more by hand

11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30 am: Make folds at each time interval

12:30-14:45 am: Let rest in the fridge covered

14:45 pm: Shape into two tight rounds (check Francis-Olive’s post on how to do this)

15 pm: Let rest in the fridge for 20 hours (my loaves rested 18 hours and 20 hours)

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Ore 9:30 Combina gli ingredienti a mano senza impastare molto e lascia riposare per un’ora senza aggiungere il sale

Ore 10:30 Aggiungi il sale e impasta a mano il minimo necessario per farlo incorporare

Ore 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30 Fai le pieghe

Ore 12:30-14:45 Fai riposare, coperto, in frigo

Ore 14:45 Forma due pagnottelle belle tonde e strette

Ore 15:00 Fai riposare in frigo per 20 ore (le mie 18 e 20 ore)

city bread in light spelt03

DAY THREE (Saturday for me) – TERZO GIORNO (Sabato  mattina per me)

8 am: Preheat the oven to its maximum (mine is a sad 475 degrees Fahrenheit) making sure your baking stone and the combo – if you have one – are in

9 am: Invert the loaf on parchment paper and on floured peel, score the loaf – as suggested by Francis-Olive, I used a razor blade, no fancy scoring tools, just a plain razor blade. It can be done without cutting yourself, I promise :) – and transfer the loaf on the shallow part of the combo cooker (if you have one). Close the combo e place back in the oven, lowering the temperature to 475 degrees (Fahrenheit, 250 Celsius). In my case, that is already my maximum :( If you do not have a combo, create steam as you like

9:30 am: Remove the upper part of the combo and lower the temperature to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit, 230 Celsius) and bake until golden brown. To me this took 15 minutes

10:30 am: Repeat the steps above with the second loaf

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Ore 8:00 Preriscalda il forno al massimo (il mio arriva appena a 250 gradi). Se hai una pietra refrattaria, usala. Dubito che tu abbia un combo, ma se l’avessi deve esser dentro

Ore 9:00 Rovescia il pane su carta da forno e su una pala per pizza e incidi con una lametta per rasoio (se si e’ attenti questo e’ il modo migliore), poi trasferisci nella parte inferiore del combo o sulla pietra refrattaria o su una teglia. Se non hai il combo, crea del vapore. Riduci la temperatura a 250 gradi

Ore 9:30 Rimuovi la parte superiore del combo e riduci la temperatura a 230 gradi. Cuoci finche’ la crosta non e’ bella scura (nel mio caso ci sono voluti 15 minuti)

Ore 10:30 Ripeti i passi precedenti anche per il secondo pane

I know I should have waited longer to cut the bread. But the light was disappearing and… well, I simply could not wait to taste it! So che avrei dovuto aspettare di piu’ prima di tagliare il pane ma non ci sono riuscita!

CONSIDERATIONS, CONSIDERAZIONI: What can I possibly say? The making of this loaf is certainly challenging. It is almost as challenging as the making of panettone and it ends up spreading over 3 days. Alas, I must say that, just like for panettone, once you have figured out the process, you can fit it into your regular schedule. For instance, next time I do this loaf (and I will be doing it) I will make only two feedings on a Sunday, have the levain ready by the evening, and have the loaves shaped by the time I generally go to sleep (just before midnight). Then, the day after (Monday) I will be able to bake the loaves after dinner, perfect way to release the tension of a working day. And, mon Dieu, to wake up to freshly baked bread on a weekday and not to any bread but to THIS bread??? Just take my word: this loaf is not just beautiful. The best part of it is the heavenly, soft and rich, crumb. I wish I could photograph TASTE. My dear Francis-Olive, I will forever be thankful to you for having taught me this technique, for having made materially possible to me to try it, and for your amazing bread and formulas. One day you will publish a best-selling bread book and I will say: I knew her first :) Hope who’s reading will give a try to this loaf. It is worth every second spent preparing it. To the stuff of life!

Questo pane non e’ solo bello ma e’ anche incredibilmente buono e saporito. In futuro cambiero’ lo schema in modo da poterlo fare durante la settimana lavorativa, perche’ e’ sicuro che lo rifaro’. Ringrazio vivamente Francis-Olive per tutto quello che ha fatto per me, incluso farmi conoscere il suo meraviglioso pane, che merita lo sforzo che richiede.

city bread in light spelt

city bread in light spelt

This goes to Susan and also to the 56th edition of Bread Baking Day entitled “A Bread Fashion Show” theme proposed by the host The Gingered Whisk and dedicated to breads with a pattern on the crust of the bread.

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Comments

  1. FANTASTIC! I found Francis-Olive’s City Bread post via YeastSpotting and was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how gorgeous her bread is… so I fully believe you when you say this bread is wonderful! It looks amazing. It’s funny, the internet feels like such a big, impersonal place sometimes, and yet can foster such generous actions. :D

  2. What a lovely story! And that looks one hell of a loaf too.

  3. The generosity of strangers is amazing at times…what a thoughtful thing to mail you your cooker. The bread is beautiful.

  4. Beautiful bread! I learned to rig my oven to crank up the temperature and steam the inside. I took a bread baking class with some serious geeks and learned some tricks (to be used with caution and also not too often). I also learned about ignoring the so-called pizza stone and go for thick tiles.

    • glad you like this loaf, it looks kind of special, right? oh my, why do you do this to me? :) now my mind is all busy thinking about tiles. why caution? can that harm your oven? (that could actually be a good excuse to get a new one, as long as it does not put my home on fire!)

  5. Lucky you and sweet of Francis-Olive!
    The bread looks perfect, from crumb to crust…totally awesome!

  6. looks fantastic like the best breads I’ve got asking for the most burned down they made in bakery. and the holes inside are so non-regular, that’s sign of a true bread. crunchy skin with a bit bitter from the top and cummin topping, yummie! perfect just with butter :)

    • well, hi! and thank you so much for the very welcome praise. I also like hearty loaves with a close to burned crust and I hope I did not exaggerate with this one. I was amazed of how good Polish bread is, last year when visiting your country for the first time. you guys know a lot about bread (or, at least, have my same concept of it). ps: what a cool blog you have!

  7. FANTABULOUS! what a great crust and crumb! i am so glad it all came out for you sis. and thanks for the ‘ode’, that was lovely. i also still want to know what kind of camera/lense you use. no, dont tell me. i like that its your ‘thing’. whenever i see your bread, i know its yours because of the photography.

    girl, i have been in writer-land. i am writing 12 hours a day to get this project done. i have a few more days of it, then i promise i will sit down and read your emails and respond. as you can see, its 2:44 in the morning, i just put my pen down for the night, and i was scouting around your blog before i get some shut-eye, and i saw this lovely post about MOI!

    xo

    fo

  8. Il tuo modo di scrivere e le tue foto sono veramente professionali. Ottimo davvero questo pane. E’ bellissimo da vedere oltre che a essere sicuramente delizioso. Questo si che e’ il vero pane.
    Buon anno!

  9. non ho parole…..
    come lo assaggerei volentieri seduta davanti al camino a sparlottare con te, sarebbe bellissimo e buonissimo
    Grandissima Barbara
    Sandra

  10. Sono incantata non solo dalla mollica ma dalla magnifica crosta di questo pane. Ha un aspetto così croccante che sembra “scrocchiare” attraverso lo schermo!!! Sembra una specie di variazione del pane senza impasto che ho trascurato da un po’. E sarebbe buona cosa riprenderci la mano con il lievito naturale :)
    E’ stato davvero un bellissimo pensiero quello di Francis-Olive. Questo mondo virtuale a volte riserva delle splendide sorprese. Un bacione, buona giornata

  11. I see, I still have some way to go with my bread-baking skills…. absolutely mouthwatering. And yes, sometimes you get nearer to persons who are far away…

  12. ci riprovo, non riesco a lasciarti commenti da giorni….volevo complimentarmi con te per questa delizia!! e volevo dirti che per l’appuntamento di febbraio voglio esserci assolutamente. I bomboloni sono uno dei dolci preferiti di mio marito, devo provarli!!!

  13. She is amazing, isn’t she!!! I am making better and better breads because of her blog. I amazingly found a great cast-iron pot in a thrift store that I can use to bake my breads. (yeah, no combo cookers in Finland either) The part I love the most is the crust.. it’s like caramel, or something like that you know? Nommmmm. You bread nerds are the best.

    • I forgot to compliment your photography!! :D The bread looks great of course. Great idea to prop it up on that wood log thingy.

      • thank you Riikka. I have very little technical knowledge about photography but I think I have good taste for composition. that wood thingy is a leftover of a contemporary art sculpture we had at home and which fell apart. happy to use the wood as I never liked the sculpture ;)
        ps: baby, you do bread regularly, you are concerned about its quality and you even bought a special tool to bake it in: sorry to tell you but you ARE officially a bread nerd too. now what you need is just a blog :)
        xox

        • And I am PROUD to be one! Yes, all that is missing is the blog… It would be rather nice to have a place to post bread pictures.

          I just realized that in a way, bread is like sculpture! Edible, beautiful sculpture.

          • wow Riikka, I think you are actually right. bread is like sculpture. and the best thing is that it disappears quickly, so you are not overwhelmed by the products of your creativity ;) go create that blog! I want to see your bread.

  14. Hello, and happy new year! I just got back, you probably wrote some post for the festivities, but I’ve got no internet at my grandparents :-(
    Your new friend is really nice! I am going to keep her tip in mind, since UK ovens can be quite rubbish, and getting a kitchen with actually working and consistently behaving appliances is a bit like winning the lottery :-( (thank goodness my current one works :-) ) Now I am going to lust after the bread, while I go check out tartine bread… Have a good week!

    • e finalmente! happy that you are back. you need a combo cooker only if you aim to make professional looking bread and particularly if your oven stays on the low temperature side, like mine. if it reaches 270 degrees Celsius or more I assure you can make gorgeous bread without it – you can check out “my favorite loaf” which I baked with my old oven (it reached 270 and that was enough). ciao

  15. beautiful! i love the top. so artistic and intricate! almost too pretty to eat!

  16. I will have to start following tartine…. I need a nerd bread blogger in the US to figure out flour brands. For so e reason I am never happy with the ones I have tried…. Anyway, for baking bread I confess I resort to a Dutch oven from IKEA… Works rather well!

    • I understand you with flours. And you are lucky as you have more choice than here in US. cool! the ikea one looks like a lecreuset. I use mine also, upside-down, but it is a challenge to slap the bread in. I will continue to use that method for batards (filoni) hoping I will become more skilled in using it with time.

  17. The bread looks mouthwatering as always. I love your story! People can be wonderful!

  18. That bread looks delicious! And I loved reading the story, too. I have seen her blog, but I haven’t yet tried any of her breads. Can’t wait though!

  19. Beautiful Bread! Terrific story, I am so glad you got the combo so your bread legend continues. So sorry to hear about your new oven, I remember the marvelous crusts your old oven made.

  20. Bellissimo questo pane!!!

  21. It’s amazing how generous people can be! That’s just awesome that she sent you that package. :) Definitely going to check out her blog!

    And that bread looks amazing. Every single part of it is just incredible. If I could bake bread like that, I would be a gigantic… something. There’s nothing better than fresh hot bread!

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