I remember the first time I made sourdough at home. It was nerve-wrecking and intimidating: I had at least 10 alarms ringing at very specific time intervals, one for each stretch and fold, shape, pre-shape, resting period… argh. The stress kept following me around for the next couple of months until one day when I got all mixed up in work and forgot all about my bread for about… four hours. When I realised what had happened I was terrified to go to the kitchen: every wild yeast enthusiast knows how much of a planning process it all is and knows how disheartening it is to ruin it all. To my greatest surprise, my bread was doing very well: it had proofed and seemed to be doing just fine without all the extra-attention.
And then I remembered. I remembered my grandmother making bread. She died when I was 3 and I never had a chance to see her cook, but I DID see her a million times with my mind’s eyes, through my mother’s stories. I saw her in our little old country cottage, surrounded by her five children, working the dough with her floured, wrinkly hands, washed out by so many years of hard labor and necessities. I saw her precise movements, the confidence in her gestures, I saw her bringing everything together without flinching. I saw an obedient, unpretentious dough that would later transform into a sturdy, large loaf meant to feed everyone around the table. No stretch and folds, no precise scoring, no time for inner dough temperature, just pure energy, pure connection. And always, absolutely always the mark of the cross made with her hands on top of the dough: the bread was sacred to her and it has become sacred to me.
So I started to relax and I simplified my bread-making process. I no longer watch the clock, I prefer to feel the dough, to look at it, to listen to it. We’re friends now :) I’ve also been exploring easier recipes, with shorter periods of proofing and possibly even less work: this is how I came across this recipe developed by none other than my usual inspiring friend Codruta, who’s got it from a TFL member, Hansjoakim. It’s 70% rye, 30% whole wheat, so yeah, no white flour, perfect if you’re not into that.
I love this bread for so many reasons: it requires no stretch and folds, no scoring, and is ready in under four hours, which is very quick for a sourdough bread. The only bad part is that I have to wait for so long to cut it, it drives me mad, the curiosity eats at me relentlessly. This is a very solid bread, it’s a large boule that will last a lot because it’s very satiating: the rye takes a lot to digest, so eat diligently. The best part about it comes from the fennel seeds though, or so I think; this gives the bread such a distinct, yet discrete perfume, almost like a very experienced lady that’s been through a lot and knows her way through the games of seduction…
Oh, and there’s nothing fluffy about it, mind you.
Love and rye!