La vie est belle !

Just Jot it January 22 – Baking day!

le 22 janvier, 2017

Sorry I missed out on a couple of posts, but I have been jotting to myself. I jot at work, and I have been jotting notes on recipes! So…”Contempt” is today’s prompt…well, there are a lot of things going on in the world that I could feel contempt for if I decided to dwell on them, but instead I choose to only scan the headlines of the “news” (whose reliability is highly dubitable) and focus on more positive ways to make  my corner of the world a better place to be.

I choose to bake bread. There is something very comforting and strong about bread. I believe the smell of fresh bread baking could work magic on even the worst attitudes. I believe the pleasure of feeling a bread dough in ones hands is the best sort of therapy.  Besides, I have a serious obsession with the stuff.  I described in an earlier post my experiments using French and American flours.  After that first experiment, I moved on to a “heartier” bread, made from a mixture of type 65 and type 80 flours from France. Type 80 flour is a little less refined and therefore a little more “whole-wheat-y.”  The French sometimes call this one “Farine demi-complète” (half whole wheat flour) or “farine bise” which refers to the “greyish” color of the resulting bread. In any case, I was dying to try a bread made with this. I found that many recipes recommended using half type 80 and half type 65 in order that the bread would not be too dense. I was pleased with my results!

But…I decided to go a step further. I read that you can use 100% type 80 flour to make a nice bread, provided that you use a levain naturel and do longer rises. Now, I really enjoy “Pain au levain” when I am in France, so last week I started my very own levain (sourdough) using a method from a nice YouTube video. (it’s in French but you can turn on English subtitles!)  I was thrilled when on day four I found bubbles forming and a most delicious ferment-y aroma coming from it! Regardez : 


Levain naturel “chez moi”

Can you smell that? I found a good sounding recipe (click here) and started my planning. It began Saturday night when I separated out the required amount of my levain, and added equal parts water and flour to it to form a sponge which would sit overnight. I “fed” the remainder of the original levain in order to keep it going for many future projects! And since I changed out its jar, I also kept a little in the original jar and “fed” it as well, just in case the new jar somehow disagreed with it and it didn’t survive the move. (Hey, I’m new at this…it’s like being a first-time puppy owner!)  so this morning I got up at 6am and was delighted to see the sponge had bubbled up and was ready to make bread. Both of the other specimens were lively as well, so in the back of my mind I tried to decide what other thing I’d make with the “extra” today.

I mixed up the sponge with my pre-measured type 80 flour and my pre-measured spring water. I left it for a half hour to do the thing called autolyse which just means you let the flour hydrate a little bit and let the gluten start to form before you really start messing with it. After that, I kneaded it until it looked and felt “right” like I thought the recipe writer intended. I left it for an hour and in the meantime I made a graham cracker dough. Because I don’t really know why, I just felt like it was somehow appropriate timing to make graham crackers.  After that, I “folded” my bread dough, and left it for another hour while I took a shower. After I got ready for church, I came back down, rolled out the graham crackers and put them in the oven. The hour was up then, so I “folded” the dough again, and left it in a nice smooth ball, covered it up and went to church.


Nice little dough ball


Random home-made graham crackers












Three hours later, I came back and found it doubled in size and eager to come out of the bowl. I divided it into three equal parts and put them in makeshift “bannetons” (I don’t actually have bannetons, but I lined three appropriately sized bowls with floured linen cloth and called it good.) And then I went to lunch with my church buddies.  Two and a half hours later, I carefully transferred the boules to my makeshift peel (it’s just a cookie sheet with no edges, but it’ll do until Amazon brings me something better!) and slashed the tops. I put steam in the oven, and then carefully placed my little boules onto my pizza stone.  Thirty-five minutes later I was rewarded with this:

Not too shabby for my first try! I am a little bit proud of my levain. The bread isn’t at all tangy like San Francisco Sourdough. I don’t know if that has to do with how young the starter is, or how I am keeping it, or what, but I’m ok with that. I don’t particularly love super-strong tasting sourdoughs.

Now, problem number two was what to do with the “extra” starter? I could have just put it in the fridge and let it “slow down” until I had a plan for it, but instead, I made these: (recipe here)

Petits pains au lait au levain à la vanille

Petits pains parfumés à la vanille

I wish I could send the aroma of these to you. It’s like vanilla bread heaven. They are delightful with a smudge of honey…

The only “problem” is that now I might have too much levain after separating and feeding it daily. I suspect that people around me might be getting stuff like theses little rolls or English muffins or crumpets, or pancakes. Oh well. They’ll just have to deal with it!

à demain!

Just Jot It January” – The spectacular-anyone-can-join-fantabulous-month-of-blogging  created by the Super Hero Linda G Hill! If you click on the link above or the picture at the bottom of the post, you’ll find the proper link to learn all the rules !


The Just Jot It January 22nd prompt, brought to you by Rosemary  of Rosemary Carlson, Freelance Writer, is: “contempt.” Use it any way you’re inspired to. And make sure you stop by and say hi to Rosemary as well! Here’s her blog: 




9 Responses to “Just Jot it January 22 – Baking day!”

  1. Judy E Martin

    Ooooh, I was salivating reading this (I love bread but have cut it out for the past 3 months). You are right, nothing beats the smell of fresh bread baking away.
    I thought your levain bread turned out beautifully, and those little vanilla breads look delicious too! Your family are very lucky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fquiri

    Les descriptions de ta préparation et confection du levain et des pains sont tellement bien décrites que je peux “PRESQUE” sentir l’odeur qu’ils dégagent ! 😜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Holton

    Regardless of political leaning, most people agree the news media is a problem. They hold a special place in the history of the nation, and they’re squandering it.

    Liked by 1 person


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