I have a habit of not being able to say certain words correctly. Often I’ve said a word the same way for years, in the privacy of my head, but no-one knows I can’t pronounce it properly. It’s rarely a problem unless I have to suddenly say that word out loud and can’t get away from it and then people start pointing and laughing. And because of this, I often get words mixed up.
It started with ‘calzolaio’ and ‘colazione’. When I was a little girl, and in Italy with my Daddie (I feel compelled to point out that my parents are still together, my mother was just back home in central London, this wasn’t a ‘summer with the estranged parent kinda thing), I remember seeing a sign saying ‘calzolaio’ (cobblers, shoe-menders). The next day I said to my father “I’ve found a place we can go to for breakfast (colazione).” You can guess the rest.
Like a lot of stupid people, I used to pronounce ‘Arkansas’ just as it looks ‘Ar-Kan-sas’, instead of Ar-kan-saw. In my head, I still do. I’m not related to George Bush, I promise.
What has any of this to do with bread?
In the search for more sourdough recipes, I recently bought Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Loads of people, far more experienced bakers than I, rave about this book. So I in no way mean to detract from that. The fact that I didn’t get on with it – I didn’t – is entirely due to my own failings.
It’s a big book with almost no photographs. I need pictures to help me with the words where food is concerned. Where almost anything is concerned. The way Whitley makes his sourdough is also different from the way Dan Lepard makes his. I can see how people would think sourdough is even more complicated than it is after reading Bread Matters. I just couldn’t get my head round it and I almost ended up crying.
Anyway, in it was, and I’m imagining still is, a recipe for Arkatena bread. Which I immediately, and persistently read as Ar-kan-sas bread, hence the name of this post. I fancied the look of it because it contains gram (chickpea) flour, which I had in and wanted to find a use for. But I could see instantly that I’d never be able to follow the recipe for it, so before I threw myself down and started kicking my feet into the wooden floor, I decided to bloody well vary the recipe to suit myself.
This is what I did.
I used 300g white levain starter
to this I added
50g gram flour
50g wholemeal flour
300g white bread flour
7g sea salt, ground up in a pestle and mortar
300g cold water
I mixed the starter up with the water, then added the flours and salt and then kneaded it for 10-15 seconds at a time, resting it for 10 mins. Then kneading it for 10-15 seconds and resting it for another ten minutes, then kneading it for 10-15 seconds and resting it for another ten minutes then repeating but this time resting it for
Then I shaped it and put it in a banneton to prove overnight at 4 degrees. Then I cooked it at 220 for 20 mins or so.
It was probably the most ‘worthy’ loaf I’ve ever made, in other words it was quite dense. And it smelled very ‘yeasty’ despite me not adding any yeast. It would be very, very good with some soup or cheese and chutney. I’m not sure I’d like it for sandwiches.
|The Arkansas bread as I’ve named it, with a big cross slash to celebrate the forthcoming visit of the Pope. Yeh right.|
|The crumb. Pretty impressive save, me thinks.|
How do you pronounce Cheyenne? I didn't realise until I was embarrassingly old that when John Wayne talked about the Shy-Anne he meant the Shay-En, thought they were two different tribal groups me. A lovely book that you might like is the Maggie Gleazer Artisan Baking across America, the recipes are really well set out, great pictures. Having said that, I haven't baked anything from it yet..Never read AW's book, probably never will now. So many bread books, so much contradictory writing. The one that made me weep was Richard Bertinet's instruction to rub fresh yeast into flour.. why? You're not making crumble, you're making bread…
I find it fascinating that there's so many different methods of making sourdough which all produce great results! I bought Bread Matters as my 1st sourdough book and was very reassured by it – Whitley told me exactly what to do, and how, and it worked. So I feel very loyal to him… Having said that, I have recently seen a book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day getting rave reviews and am wondering about it… It certainly sounds intriguing.