Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Squid Ink Bread (and hello...)

So, either you're gonna love this bread because it's totally zany, or you're going to be totally grossed out by it. I fall into the former. Imagine this with cream cheese or crême fraîche, lox and dill. Yeah. You gotta use your imagination. With that said, my BF is horrified by it. But frankly, the squid ink adds no flavor to the bread. This one here is accented with rosemary and aleppo pepper, so it's basically a rosemary bread with a slight kick, and it's really good!

 Squid Ink Bread
(Can I mention how challenging it was to photograph this bread??)

And, hey, hi, hello! Its been, what, three years??  I've missed being here. But rest assured, I'm still baking weekly. In fact, my bread life is coming up on 8 years. Damn. And yay!

I came back because I have a few fun new things to share with you. I also wanted to sort of dust off the cobwebs because I mostly find myself 'just baking bread', ya know? Without really diving into anything too experimental. I have some good stuff to relate, but I also came back to the page to push myself to do some interesting things, and y'all know I can't do that without sharing with you. Plus, my friend Michalis intimated that new posts would be warmly received, and so, here I go with all that.

Okay, so, I made a black loaf of bread. I will admit, anytime I used to see black bread I would recoil a bit (I think mostly because the ones I have seen are made with charcoal. No, just don't. And why?). But then I tried some squid ink bread at Mario Batali's new Los Angeles Eataly and was was like 'oh damn, DAMN and yes, please, please DO!' This is the loaf that has brought me back to the page. (BTW, Batali's Eatly?? The bomb. And you can get squid ink there, fyi...)

This bread is simple, really, and can I just remind you all that when experimenting with bread, don't go wild. Approach it with a cool head and hand. For instance, I could have tried a new flour and a new technique, along with working with a new ingredient (squid ink), but if something went wrong, I would have no way of knowing where to begin to unravel things to make it right. The addition of squid ink is enough. It adds hydration AND salt, so, just start there and once you nail it, then you can change up the flour or add another thing.

Speaking of salt, squid ink is very salty. Taste it before you add it to your dough, don't just take my word for it. You really need to know how salty it is before you begin, because your brain will think 'ah, okay, if I add 21g of this salty squid ink, just how much more salt do I need to add? Or, do I need to add any salt at all?' It's a good thing I worked all that out for you so you don't have to make a too salty/not salted enough bread.

Another thing to consider is the ingredient itself. You might say 'hey, I'll add seeds to this bread too!' Really? Think about that. Would you make a dish of, say, squid pasta and add seeds to it? No. Gross. Ok, maybe not gross, but just not right. You wouldn't add cheese either, because Italians have a very specific rule about cheese and seafood, it's just not done. Just think of this sort of thing when making your bread.

(Ignore the fact that I just told you to smear cream cheese on a slice, and the obscene slab of cheese in this photo here):

So, Batali's bread has rosemary in it. Makes sense. Think about it, pasta with squid and rosemary would be pretty bomb, so that flavor combo would be bomb in bread too. Cool. Doing it. Plus I have a huge rosemary shrub just outside my front door. The one thing I am adding that Batali does not is aleppo pepper, because a plate of pasta with squid, rosemary and aleppo pepper just sounds heavenly. It's going to add a bit of kick and earthiness to the bread.

Just so you know, I am still using my 100% rye starter with all my breads. Because what would 'Girl Meets Rye' be if not for that starter, the thing that launched, well, everything. It is the backbone of this blog, after all, and it was the backbone of my Tartine Bread Experiment blog as well. My starter is my holy grail. And if anyone wants a recap of how to make one, I am so happy to do a simple post to revisit it (though my original post is very informative). It's essentially 30g dark rye, 30g water. Mix. Let sit. It ferments after a bit. Done. You should be on your way to making bread in about 9 days.

This bread began with a 100% rye levain, my favorite. 12g starter, 75g water, 75g dark rye that I milled at home, but you can use rye flour from the store. I recommend Bob's Red Mill. It's inexpensive, available, and reliable. Keep this in mind, some rye berries from 'the bin' at supermarkets is old, and I have been faced with bugs and mold and, oh lord, cocoons! I'm totally not kidding. Avoid that and get your grains from a reliable source. Because all it take is one moldy batch and your 8-year old starter is gone. Can you imagine? P.S., this is why you should also keep a backup in the fridge. I swap the old one out for a new one every couple of months to keep it current. And you should too.


A thing to note is that most squid ink that you see on the market is really cuttlefish ink. A cuttlefish is a much larger cousin to the squid. The ink from the cuttlefish, squid, and even octopus, are interchangeable. So, don't freak out if you get to the market and only find cuttlefish ink. It's all good.

I wonder how many of you will make this. You can add less squid ink and make a pale gray loaf. You know what? I'mma do that for you next week, and I'll add some photos to this post so you can see what that looks like. That's what Batali does, more dark gray than haunted house black like mine here. But frankly, if I'm going to go squid ink, I'm going to go for real black.

Looks a little like a sliced meteor

I'm happy to be back. I wonder if I'm talking to an empty auditorium or if any of you will find your way back to me. If so, I can't wait to hear from you. I can't wait to share more cool things with you. Have a happy Thanksgiving. I have to run and make another loaf for my boyfriend, because when I told him this was what he was getting for the big day, I think he might have cried a little.

Without further ado, I give you your dark and stormy (and delicious) bread.

Components for the levain:

12g 100% rye starter
75g water
75g dark rye flour (I milled my own, but BRM dark rye works well)

Components for the dough:

All of the levain
350g water
50g dark rye flour (I milled my own, but BRM dark rye works well)
450g bread flour (I used BRM Artisan)
21g squid ink
15g extra virgin olive oil
6g salt (I used Diamond kosher salt)
5g rosemary chopped finely
4g aleppo pepper

Rice flour for shaping, I used black forbidden rice that I milled at home

Forbidden Rice Flour

Day 1: Make the levain

Mix 12g 100% rye starter with 75g water and 75g dark rye flour (I used freshly milled). Ferment overnight. Mine went for 7 hours 50 minutes


Day 2: Make the dough

Add 350g water to the levain, then 50g dark rye flour and 450g bread flour. I used BRM Artisan. Leave this to autolyse for 1 hour 15 minutes

After the autolyse, disperse the aleppo pepper, the salt and rosemary over the dough, and smear the squid ink over the surface. This helps everything to get incorporated more easily. Squid ink, as I have found, takes a bit of elbow grease to fully mix into the dough.

When you've just about amalgamated everything, squish the olive oil into the dough, and complete the amalgamation. Let it be for an hour. Its gone through a lot.

Perform folds for the next 30, 60, and 90 minutes. Leave the dough alone for the rest of the fermentation. The bulk fermentation time, excluding the hour autolyse, is 4 hours.


After the bulk is complete, the dough should be billowy. Spread a proofing cloth (I just use a square of linen) over the kitchen table and sprinkle generously with rice flour. Enough so that when the dough ferments, it won't stick to the cloth. Pull out your proofing bowl. Ignore all that for a minute and...

Billowy Upon Completion of Bulk

Spread rice flour over a work surface and scrape the dough onto that. pull the sides into the center of the dough to make a neat package, now flip it over onto its foldy side and twist it to form a tight boule.

Using a bench scraper, scrape the boule from the work surface and place it, smooth side down, on the awaiting linen. pull the sides in and pop this into the awaiting bowl. I use a 4.5 quart Kitchenaid mixing bowl and the size and shape is perfect. Scrape up any residual rice flour from the work surface and sprinkle over the top of the dough, so as not to be wasteful. Cover the bowl with a plate, pop in the fridge, and ferment for 18 hours.

Turned out onto rice flour

Pull in the sides to make a tight parcel

 A tightly wound boule

 Turn out onto the awaiting rice-floured proofing cloth (OMG, it IS a meteor!)

Into the awaiting bowl, ready for final fermentation!

Day 3: Bake day

An hour before the fermentation is done, preheat the oven to 550 degrees (the oven should be fitted with a baking stone) with a combo cooker inside of it.

After the preheat, (pay attention here:) 1) cover the mouth of the bowl with a square of parchment paper (** also, save this parchment square when the bread is done baking! It will last for many, many bakes!) 2) place your pizza peel over the parchment bowl 3) invert the dough onto the peel, now peel the proofing cloth off, score the dough with a razor (or snip with scissors), slide the dough into the shallow part of the hot combo cooker, cover it with the fatty end, push it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes at this temp. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to, oh, 450-475. Bake for another 15 minutes. After this, pull the lid off of the combo cooker and marvel at your perfectly sprung loaf! Nestle the pan holding the bread over the mouth of the combo cooker lid. This provides a buffer from the oven floor so you NEVER get burnt bread bottoms.

 Inverted and perfectly fermented

Score: the trademark swirl, for old time's sake!

Bake for another 30 minutes, spinning the pan at least once to ensure an even bake, as well, you may have to toggle the oven temp up and or down if the bread is baking too quickly/not baking quickly enough. This one took an hour. Usually my breads go for an hour and 10, but the crust on squid ink bread goes tough if left to bake that long. The internal temp of the bread should be at least 210 degrees when you pull it form the oven. I think mine was like 215 or something like that.

Et, voila!

Yay! I'm back!

To the staff of life!



  1. No, you are not shouting to an empty audience! (After all, I baked your 100% Einkorn Michette). I do love a rosemary sourdough (though I don't know about the squid ink).
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving Karin! How did your Einkorn turn out?? xo

  2. Welcome back, France! It's been a wasteland out here for a long time. I still make your 100% Rye Starter every day. Even this new post on the squid ink loaf is welcoming. The baked loaf looks fantastic, though I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around biting into it. You've always been a mind expander! I've never actually eaten squid ink pasta, though there's a package of the stuff in my pantry that someone put into my Christmas stocking years ago. Maybe I should try that first before I bake this loaf.

    I live on a small island off the west coast of Canada, so I won't be able to source squid or cuttlefish ink until my next trip to Vancouver ... or to Eataly LA -- my step son lives in your fair city, so we visit a couple of times a year. He's coming home for Christmas, so I might have an idea for him for my Christmas stocking!

    Good to have you back in the kitchen!

    1. Yay! I am SO glad to be back. You know, the squid ink thing is just a novelty. I'm going to make a gray loaf this week, so you all can see what that looks like. But it adds zero flavor. Just sort of a fun thing. Tell your son that the squid ink (it's really cuttlefish ink) is across from the fish department, in a refrigerated cabinet, next to the salt cod. Cheers! xo

    2. junkopartner: send me an email when you get this: frankieolives (at) live (dot com)

  3. Welcome back! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw your blog name show up in the unread section of Feedly. Your blog basically inspired me to start exploring sourdough and I have loved every minute of my journey (even the failures). I can’t wait to read about your latest adventures - now, off to find squid ink....

    1. FlyerFan! That makes me SO SO happy! I love hearing that I have somehow helped someone in the world. :) Let me know how your black bread comes out. I'm doing another one 'in grey' for you all. Maybe those not easily convinced by the black would not mind trying the gray. It was just really fun to do something different, ya know? xo

  4. Glad your back! Missed reading about the amazing loaf creations. Still can’t quite get the amazing consistency you do, but it’s delicious trying all the same.

    1. Argh128. Yay! You're baking! You know what the key to consistency is? Really, just for that weekly loaf of bread? Just finding that one configuration (starter/flour/hydration/fermentation time) and just sticking to that. Swapping out whole grain flours. Adding toasted nuts. Kicking up the hydration just a touch. Save the crazy experiments for 'experiment day', but for the weekly loaf, keep within that range and your bakes should come out perfectly 100% of the time. Oh, and dont think about things too much. I find that just making it part of my day rather than 'focusing' on it, takes the stress and micromanage off of the loaf so you are less apt to second guess or question if things are right or not so right. I frankly sandwich (no pun intended) my breads between running errands/working out/checking email/cleaning the house, whatever, so that it's part of my day, but not the focal point. Make sense? And I'm sure you're just being hard on yourself! Your loaves are doubtlessly amazing! xo

    2. I agree 100%, and the loaves are always delicious. (Minus some trimmed burned edges occasionally) Just not always with that amazing oven spring you have in your photos! The post about retarding your Leaven post is a great reminder that things don’t always go to plan.

      Glad your back to sharing your Recipes and creations!

  5. You are amazaballs! The pictures and instructions have me enthralled with squid ink! Had it one time at a restaurant in Los Angeles and of course sported black teeth through the dinner that made everyone laugh at me. Will my teeth be black after gobbling down a loaf? Probably not but all the more fun. Thanks for the inspiration and I’ll pull a bottle of Barolo from the wine rack to compliment the squid loaf. Happy thanksgiving rye girl

  6. Hello my dear! Great to see you back!. <3

  7. I'm totally in love with your recipe and pictures! Great work! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you Elly! It is my pleasure, always! xo


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