Hier geht’s zur deutschen Version dieses Post
Beginning with his nouvel interpretation of Munch’s famous painting – how lame seemed my 12th grade essay on the same subject in comparison! – he mused on the holeyness of bread, going back to the caveman’s gritty gruel and ending his discourse with St. Chad’s holey grail at Tartine.
Eager to further this hole discussion I invited Don to share more of his eye-opening insights with a guest post on my humble blog. He graciously accepted, so I’m happy to present to you:
AUTHENTIC BREAD – YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!
I have a huge amount of respect for people like Daniel Leader. He treks all the way from the U.S. to Europe and dodges rolling boulders, booby traps and angry natives to find THE guy who makes the best kringenschmaltzenblinkenbrot in the world.
|Daniel Leader’s French Walnut Bread – not authentic?|
Then he spends a decade cleaning out the stables so that the master will teach him the secrets to put in a cookbook for the likes of you and me. I’ve made some of his breads, and they’re fantastic. Authentic breads, people say.
You know another group I have great respect for? Bakers who take difficult ingredients that have been used since the dawn of time to make bricks, and manage to turn them into gorgeous, airy and perfectly shaped loaves better than anything I could make with the finest wheat flour and Peter Reinhart looking over my shoulder making helpful suggestions.
They’ll use 100% einkorn or barley to create a boule that’s better supported than a suspension bridge (and tastier too!).
|100% Einkorn – solution to our crumbling infrastructure?|
Well crafted, impressive breads? Certainly. Authentic bread like what folks ate in the old days? Not so much. Do you really think that most people dined upon lovingly baked loaves made with golden wheat from tall fronds waving in a gentle breeze and harvested on a sunny afternoon by a smiling Tuscan ragazza in colorful garb?
Snort. Real breads were made with rancid, weevily flour, badly milled and mixed with whatever powdery substance the baker had on hand, because flour was expensive and he had to sell the bread at the price that the local authorities dictated.
|Only God and the baker knew what’s in the bread|
Chalk, sawdust, plaster, alum, clay, ammonium and hemp were just some of the unnatural additives used to bulk up both the breads and the profits of the baker. Yes, some people could pay black market prices for white unadulterated bread, but the lumpenproletariat majority had little choice in the matter.
Add the quest for authenticity to high wire experimentation with early progenitors of gluten-free ingredients and what do you get? Probably a disaster, but if a disaster was good enough for our ancestors, it’s good enough for us. So herewith,
DON’S AUTHENTIC BREAD
Ingredient Weight* Baker’s Percentage**
Plaster of Paris 100g 25%
Chalk*** 100g 25%
Clay 100g 25%
Sawdust 100g 25%
Yeast 8g 2%
Salt 8g 2%
Water**** 280g 70%
* Despite extensive searching (at least 45 seconds) I was unable to find authoritative accounts of just how much of each ersatz ingredient was typically used, because surprisingly bakers kept such information close to their flour-stained vests. Who knew? So I picked round numbers.
** Calculation of baker’s percentage caused me some consternation, since none of the dry ingredients are really flour. But since they were substituted for flour, I figured I’d count them as such. Baker’s math junkies feel free to weigh in.
*** Pro tip: Pound the pieces of chalk into powder before mixing, unless your intent is to use the bread to write on a blackboard.
**** I did some googling and could not find any online sources of water guaranteed to harbor cholera. I hope you will excuse this egregious anachronism.
Step 1. Purchase the ingredients at your local baker’s supply store:
|Your local baker’s supply store has everything you need for authentic bread|
Step 2. Mix. Toss everything together in that hideous bowl you got at your wedding which you’ve been meaning to throw out all these years but never did (you’ll want to after this). Stir. DO NOT AUTOLYSE – plaster sets.
|Our flours, clockwise from top left: clay*****, sawdust, plaster, chalk|
***** I can hear the whining already: “That’s not authentic clay, that’s Playdoh, you fool, and it’s made from wheat. You’re cheating!” Listen, I don’t know what kind of clay those bakers used – if they were willing to substitute clay for flour maybe their clay wasn’t real clay. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Anyway if you can make artisan bread out of actual clay and the rest of this trash, then I’d be happy to let you write this post instead of me.
Step 3. Knead. Don’t let your precious Electrolux Assistant get anywhere near this pile of solid waste. Stretch and fold with your bare hands. Don’t be afraid to get them dirty, but do wash before and afterwards. A clean baker is a healthy baker (especially with ingredients like these).
Step 4. Ferment. Let rise between 5 minutes and 2 weeks, it really doesn’t matter.
|Our dough, before and after fermentation. Looks like fine wine, doesn’t it?|
Step 5. Shape. I think mud pies would be appropriate here.
Step 6. Proof. Don’t bother.
Step 7. Bake. To prevent hazardous fumes I decided to bake at 70° F/21° C. This temperature provides a number of significant advantages: no warm up needed, no chance of burning either my hands or the bread, and no cool down period necessary. In fact I really don’t understand why all breads aren’t baked this way.
To achieve the crumb structure I was looking for, I finished the loaf with my specialty crumb enhancement tool:
|Crumb enhancement tool – also works for Swiss cheese|
And voilà, rough authentic bread just like the townspeople used to eat!
|Rough authentic bread (after crumb enhancement)|
************* Do not try this at home. Sickness or miserable flavor may result.