(If you do not have any
leaven, make some or ask a friend to give you some. To make
it: mix some flour and water and wait a few days until the
dough starts to rise; you will know then that it is alive
When you take the leaven
out of the fridge, the living things it contains are not
on top form.
They are cold and hungry.
In such conditions it would be indecent to ask them to work.
You have to get to get your
breeding ground back into shape.
You must give them food
and put them at their favourite temperature (at about 25°C).
Now proceed with what we
call a "refreshment", for these little creatures
are far from fresh.
It is the evening and you
are going to prepare your leaven for tomorrow morning's
Add some flour and warm
water in order to obtain a dough at a temperature of 25°C.
The amount of flour you
need to add for an initial refreshment is always the same:
200g of flour and 200g of water for 200g of leaven (Don't
forget the salt).
Do this in a large mixing
bowl, with a spoon to not get it everywhere!
No need to stir for hours!
Once the dough is mixed you can stop.
Your leaven is happy, and
so are you; you can sleep peacefully.
2 - Kneading
After a good night's sleep, the leaven has been happily
reproducing itself and is ready to work.
By adding 1 kilo of flour,
850g of water and 20g of salt,the leaven can get to work.
Keep an eye on the temperature
of the water in order to get the dough at a temperature
Using a spoon, take a few
minutes to mix the dough. This should not involve forcing
yourself or suffering... the revelation of using lots of
water: kneading is no longer a strenuous task. Cover with
a cloth to avoid that nothing falls in, and also to prevent
a crust forming caused by the surface of the dough drying
3 - Rising
Fermentation starts: the gas released starts the dough rising.
For bread to keep, and for
the sake of it's flavour, it is important to let it rise
the first time for a long time.
The first rising stage will
take all morning.
4 - Shaping or putting
At one o clock it is time to put the dough into the baking
tins. Bakers divide up the dough and make it into buns or
baguettes... You are not a baker and anyway your dough is
too sticky. Instead you tip the dough into tins that you
have greased. Use slightly melted margerine, and apply it
with a brush. It is better not to fill the tins more than
three quarters full, as the bread is going to rise. Bare
this in mind.
Remember to put some of
the dough in the fridge for the next time. Otherwise when
you go to make bread you'll find you have no leaven!
5 - Second Rising
There is nothing more you can do for the bread. The
dough is rising in it's tin, and as you ponder over your
hard work, you imagine your professional reconversion as
a traditional baker (see "Becoming a Baker").