Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Yin and Yang

Yin & Yang

Y'all. This post is more of an update than anything. I know you all come to the net to look for new breads to make (Yin & Yang recipe below, and OMG, it's simple, but it's AMAZING), but also as a means of connectivity. None of us know each other. In the internet age, one has to wonder how much of one's own self we really know. We get lost in putting up this persona, giving the world what we think it wants and in this, we lose ourselves. This is what I've been contemplating for a while, and I've come to this: the net can be used to hone our creative selves, or it can suck us into a meaningless abyss. S'up to you to decide where you want to be.

I stopped posting so long ago because I felt the pressure of having to produce. For whom? That's the thing, and that's what my hiatus brought me to. We don't have to do anything for anyone at all. Ever. Well, except if you have kids, right, then you have to take care of them. I say this with certainty because I was one of those kids who was not taken care of by her parents, and it sucked (I doubt if you are baking bread that you would be the kind of person who would neglect your own kids, but the insight might be worthwhile nonetheless). Barring parental responsibility, we don't need to post daily or weekly to appease anyone at all. Our exchanges are little gifts to one another: my posts to you, your comments and viewership in exchange. It's very Buddhist, that. Non-attachment. No expectations. Finding joy in being without desire. There should be zero expectation, right, if you are doing something out of kindness, then the kindness extends beyond unreasonable expectation. This is what I have had to remind myself of because I've been busy and I don't have so much time to post regularly. If I'm not careful, I'm at risk of feeling guilty, or that I'm letting you all down.

Here's what. I'm in two schools pursing two completely separate educations. I am going to school full time for fashion design, and also full time to get my Classical Pilates certification. When I say that this is difficult, it's an understatement. My day begins at 2:50 a.m. and I go to bed around 10 to achieve all that I need to in order to realize both of these passions (my father said that I always did things the hard way). Pilates is the single most challenging thing that I have ever experienced in my life, fashion design demands more still. I have had to cram 5 levels of classical Pilates training into my body in 8 months, training to that level takes people YEARS to achieve. Fashion design is full time. The school that I'm going to is a 'fast track' school, which means that we cram 4 years of college into 2 years. I was not going to return to school for fashion, but my favorite instructor, Mr. N., is teaching draping, and he is, hands down, the single most inspirational educator that I've had the privilege to learn from. I could not miss this class, though by all rights I should not be doing fashion at all, what with Pilates and the demands of it. Short story: I. Am. Busy. I operate on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. So, I apologize if my posts seem spotty. Not that I need to explain myself, but I want to, because you, dear reader, though I don't know you, are important to me. Humanity is important to me. Sharing simple things that I have learned, things that have made my life sweeter (baking bread), is important to me. If I can help relieve you of any tedium (and bad bread days are so tedious, I know this well), then I am happy to be here for you. Being open and kind and connected is important to me.

Bread is a sanctuary that during busy times, I have to fight for. For instance, today I had to bake Deanna's bread, go to draping class for 5 hours, go to pilates at 4am, do homework, walk the dog, clean the kitchen (forget about the laundry today, please, let there be one more clean shirt to wear tomorrow), run some errands, put oil in my car, dash out to buy thread... To write a post in order to keep an audience is, well, overwhelming. I bake weekly, but I don't alway have time to share what I've done. And now there are things that I want to share, but because I am putting new recipes into a book, I can't, and it seems as though my bread life is tenuous if you check my blog. Crickets here, I know. But there is a reason why things have been so quiet on my end, and now you know.

So I say this to you, dear reader, the ones who have my back, the ones who returned after my long break, the ones who don't 'unfollow me' because I haven't thrown up visual evidence of my baking life on Instagram this week, those who privately email me and ask me for help or let me know how much my blog means to them: this is for you. The bread book that I'm writing (on top of all the aforementioned) is for you. You are the die-hards that make me keep pushing on. You are the ones who make me realize that what I write about is important, even if only for a small audience. If I can touch only a few of you, David, Daniel, Alex, Argh128, Matt, Michalis, Alexandra, Joe B. Jr., Maurizio, and the 225 'followers' on my Instagram page, this blog is for you, and a small audience is fine by me. In an era of rapid expansion and increase, I am happy to keep my circle small and intimate, connected and real.

I wanted to post today to tell you that I'm busy for a reason. I've never had a chance to do something just for me. My whole life has been given over to others. I won't go into detail, but I will say this, what is left of my precious life is my own. My time is my own. My interests will be pursued. I have found love and light, purpose and peace. I have fought hard and won a battle that damn near took my life. But I am here at the page when I can be, and I am happy for it. Baking and sharing with you is so special and I love it beyond reason. This blog is one of my passions, and I have loved it for coming up on 9 years. I thank those of you who are, like me, living for connectivity and significance when the world demands that we give ourselves over to externalities that prevent us from living viscerally, intentionally, and authentically.

Here is your yin & yang bread. A simple one, but one that is feeding my good friend Deanna who has given me a little treasure that will change my life. Thank you sister. And thank you dear reader, for meeting me back at the page no matter how seldom, for supporting me and being my ear. If it was not for the little thank you notes for posting silly things like digestive biscuits (Alex!) and humble loaves, I would have no presence on the net at all.



This formula makes one loaf


3 or 4 days before you make your levain, kick it into high-gear by feeding it 2x a day. On levain day, you will need:

12g 100% hydration dark rye starter (I mill my own flour for this, but you don't have to)
75g freshly milled rye flour
75g h2o

Mix the levain ingredients together until you reach a paste. Mine fermented for 8 hours.

levain, fully realized


You will need:

400g h2o

400g Giusto's Artisan flour (BRM artisan/all purpose or even KA bread/all purpose are fine stand ins)
100g dark rye flour (again, I mill my own, but you don't have to)
10g kosher salt, I used Diamond
All of the levain
70g toasted hulled white sesame seeds
25g black sesame seeds
15g toasted sesame seed oil

For the linen:
lots of black sesame seeds for coating the yin half of the loaf
lots of brown (unhulled white) sesame seeds for coating the yang half of the loaf

When your levain is properly fermented, mix together the levain the flours and the h2o until you reach a shaggy mass. Autolyse for 1 hour 30 minutes

After the autolyse, the dough should have expanded a bit. Squish the salt and oil into the dough until it's fully incorporated, then fold in the 70g toasted white sesame seeds and 25g black sesame seeds. Work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 3.5-hour bulk fermentation.

Every half hour, perform a series of turns, taking care not to deflate the dough as you near the end of bulk. You will likely stop your turns somewhere around 2 hours into the bulk. For the remaining bulk, leave it untouched. If it's super warm where you are, feel free to pop it in the fridge for the last hour of bulk to slow the fermentation. 

When bulk fermentation is accomplished, turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with brown rice flour, and shape into a loose round. Let it rest. Mine rested for 10 minutes. 

During the bench, spread out a thick layer of raw sesame seeds, black and white, to form a yin and yang pattern on your linen (see picture below).

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule. and carefully place it onto the yin/yang decorated linen. Fold up the sides carefully and pop into a bowl seam-side up.

Pop in the fridge and ferment. Mine fermented for 20 hours


Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Unearth the dough by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough at the perimeter of the boule, taking care so that you don't mar the yin & yang sesame pattern, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Yes. A crap load of sesame seeds will come pouring out of the bowl. Try to collect as many as you can and put them in a bowl. Eat them. I do. they are high in calcium.

Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 450 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening.

Toggle the oven between 425 an 450 until the boule is baked to desired darkness, or between 210-220 degrees.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

Eat any excess sesame seeds that slide off the loaf after the bake. They're amazing.

To the staff of life!

Pictorial Evidence of Real Time Things


 yin and yang on linen

 20 hour final fermentation

 on the parchment, ready for the bake

 a successful steam

 will ya look at that crumb?