Saturday, June 21, 2014

Farro & Garlic Scapes

Am I too late? I don't know. L.A. is like a remote bubble, totally cut off from reality (in numerous ways). Like, our growing seasons are long if not indefinable. You can get tomatoes at the farmer's market now, and that's just weird. I am a Bay Area girl to the marrow, and tomatoes are a fruit that definitely belong to St. Martin for his protracted summer feast.

A Boule of Farro & Garlic Scape

So, we are having a warmish start to our feverish seasons. Things from the vine are offered earlier than in other parts of the world, and they will likely be at my disposal well into the celebratory season where others are thinking of turkey, shinily wrapped gifts and credit card debt. This season I got far too many garlic scapes that should be alloted one person, and I used them for sundry projects, namely this one that I am sharing with you today.

Garlic scapes are the long shoots that sprout from the top of new garlic, curling in upon themselves and topped with devilish finials. They are long prized in Chinese cooking, which means that it was inevitable that the western world should discover them, make them posh, expensive, unattainable. What do they taste like? Well. Garlic. Of course. I mean, they don't taste like chicken that's for sure. They are a powerful shoot, bright and fresh and crisp and begging to be tossed into things here and there in effort to elevate them.

Our garlic scapes were linked here with farro. Because of their vigor, I think they are best paired with a grain that will enhance and confront them all the same. Farro meets their boldness and compliments their intensity with nuttiness and earth and sweet. Divine.

I milled my own farro flour for these loaves. Unfortunately, I don't know of any company that will supply those of you without mills. ** UPDATE: Theory, our baking friend, has just informed me that you can get farro milled to order from Bluebird Grain Farms!

Otherwise, you might try spelt flour, which you can get from To Your Health, and which is one of my absolute favorite flours to employ in my breads. Had I no mill, this is what I would have done.

Hey, on a final note, I wanted to give a shout out to Franck Haie who wrote me such a beautiful note about the rye starter that is the basis of my whole blog. The breads in Chad's repertoire are based on a whole wheat/white starter. When I discovered rye, I began to really get my 'bread legs', so to speak. Rye and I linked up arm and arm and we have been lovers ever since. It thrills me to hear that so many of you have found a lover in rye as well, so I also want to thank all of the people aside from Franck who have taken the time to write to me about their success with 100% rye starters, and there have been many. Evidently there are scores of people who have not been able to make bread until the discovery of a rye starter. I am honored to have been able to help you along your bread path. This is why I continue to write the blog. If not for your comments and emails, I would probably have stopped it long ago. So long as there are people who are having bread awakenings with their rye starters, then I will always be here posting new experiments so that your bread world is limitless and fulfilling.


Here's this weeks loaf.



Three days before you plan to make your levain, throw your starter into overdrive by feeding it three times each day. On the third day, build your levain:

10g 100% dark rye, 100% hydration starter
75g h2o
75g freshly milled farro flour

Mine fermented for about 6.5 hours


All of the levain

360g h2o
150g freshly milled farro flour
350g Giusto's Ultimate Performer flour
180g garlic scapes, sliced thinly and sweated till they just begin to go soft and cooled
10g olive oil, I used California Olive Ranch
12g kosher salt, I used Diamond

When the levain is at its peak, mix it with the flours and h2o until you reach a shaggy mass. Autolyse for 1 hour.

After the autolyse, squish the salt into the dough so that it is thoroughly incorporated, then fold in the of scapes, working to keep it all in within the dough as much as you can. It's fine if a few pieces peek through, but by the end of the bulk, the majority of it should be encased in the dough or the bits will burn on bake day. Now begin your 4-hour bulk fermentation. Here you will perform a series of turns until the dough really starts to expand and feel tight. You will intuitively know that this is the time to stop your turns. Now let the dough ferment for the remainder of the bulk.

After the bulk fermentation, scrape the dough onto a worktable that you have dusted with brown rice flour, gather it into a loose round and let it rest for about 10 or 15 minutes.

After it has rested, shape it into a taut boule, and pop it into a banneton or abowl lined with a linen that has been dusted with brown rice flour. Get it into the fridge and ferment 15 - 18 hours. Mine went for 18 hours.


One hour before you plan to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 500 degrees, installed with a baking stone and both halves of your combo cooker.

After the hour preheat, remove the dough bowl from the fridge, place a piece of parchment over the mouth of it, then a pizza peel on top of this, now flip the whole thing over so that the dough ends up on top of the parchment and peel. Remove the linen (if you have over dusted, now is the time to brush away any loose flour. I know, I have been the victim of some snowy loaves too).

Snip or score the dough, the slide it into the shallow end of the combo cooker. Cover with the fat end and steam the loaf at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. Now turn the oven down to 475 and bake for another 15. After the steam, remove the lid and bake till chestnut brown. You may have to toggle the oven between 450 and 475. Take the internal temp to 210 - 212 degrees.

Allow to cool for at least an hour, preferably two, before slicing.


To the staff of life!


  1. Another beautiful bread. Must try it soon.
    My fav is probably the Sweetie Pie at the moment. Just love the flavours but had to up the hydration by about 60g(!) probably because I used a different type of sweet potato. We can't get the orange one here even though we live in sweet potato country (the people here live off the stuff) so I used a purple skinned one which seems to be VERY dry.
    By the way, I'd love to use a rye starter but can't get rye here. Very limited in the flour department..but I can get spelt. I've always used a whole wheat starter with good results but once I move back to more 'civilized' places I will definitely start a rye starter.
    Thanks for posting and including such beautiful pictures! Great inspiration!

    1. Hey Dina. Yes, with hydration, it's always best to use what anyone instructs as a 'suggestion'. I always say start with less, then add more. So, if my formula calls for 350g of water, I might start with 320g and work up from there if need be. There are so many variables that affect hydration needs in a given bread. A dry sweet potato would certainly necessitate a higher measure of water. Good call.

      Have you considered mail order for your rye? If this is an option To Your Health is a fantastic rye, as is Blue Bird Grain Farms. If finances are to be taken into consideration, Bob's Red Mill is inexpensive. Stock up! Once you go rye, you never go back.

      Thank you for your kind and lovely words.



    2. Yep, I have a feeling that this would be the case (once rye you never go back). I grew up on lovely rye breads in Switzerland and miss the variety of flours you can get in Europe. So, whenever your recipe says rye I use whole spelt and still turns out ok.
      I am not sure they would ship four to where I am (Papua New Guinea) since we don't have a postal address, only PO box. I actually have found Rye here before (Bob's Red Mill) but haven't seen it for over a year. Also, I don't know how long these flours from the States sit around in ports and such (everything is slow over here). I guess they would go rancid?

      And oh, I also made your pie's, what a wonderful idea! We loved the base! Great for all sorts of toppings. That's a lovely dough and will definitely make it again. Glad to have found your blog.


  2. Hi,
    those garlic stems were an edible quite common in Spain. Nonetheless in the last few decades they're discarded. You know, that absurd mind of 'poors food'. Fortunately it can be seen every other time (and no too expensive) in chinese food shops. Well, I've a good bunch of them in the freezer harvested last year and now I know how to use them, not only in asian-like dishes.

    Thanks and regards,


  3. You are absolutely amazing! I love reading your blog and looking at all the beautiful pictures.

    I have been baking since I was about 7 years-old but never bread. I have been struggling with my rye starter...nothing seems to get it going after the first few days. :( I was wondering, would you sell any of your starter?

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, for liability reasons I cannot sell my starter. What brand/type of rye are you using?

    2. I completely understand. :) I have been using BRM's organic dark rye and bottled spring water. The last one I started about a week ago, was doing great the first 3 days but it, too, just went flat after that. I live in LA so I don't think it's the weather/temperature...not sure what I am doing wrong, though. Do I just keep on feeding it even though it doesn't have any bubbles at all?

  4. Love the idea of using garlic scape in bread. Beautiful photos!

  5. Hey there. I was searching for a source for hard red wheat flour, and found it — and farro flour! — ground-to-order at Bluebird Grain Farms in Washington. Just placed an order; can't wait to try it!

    1. Hooray! I am a huge supporter of Bluebird Grain Farms, as you know from my prior posts. I will include this in my post so that everyone can order it from them. THANK YOU!!



    2. OK, just updated the post and let other readers know that they can get it at Bluebird. Thanks to you!

    3. Just got my first order (was delayed due to fires in Washington). Now trying to figure out when it was milled. Needs to sit for a couple weeks before use, if I recall your prior posts…


Hey. So, I answer all of my comments, but it may take me a few days to get to it. Go ahead and leave a comment or ask a question and I will respond the best I can!