Once Upon a time: Cooking … Baking … Traveling … Laughing …


BBB ~ the Shepherd’s in the Pot

I imagine the globe’s first baker was an insomniac.  You don’t agree or you don’t follow that?  I seem to have no trouble going to sleep, staying asleep is an all together different thing.  I’m most often routinely awake at 3 or 3:30 in the morning.  Many nights when I wake up like that, I’ll read.  On one particular night recently when I woke like that, it seemed the very perfect time to … Bake the BBB bread for this month.

Our Kitchen of the Month is Karen of BakeMyDay!  If you’re aiming to bake this ~ you really should you know ~ and be a Buddy by baking, post by the 28th of this month, send a photo, a short comment and a link to your blog (link not necessary if you don’t have a blog), and e-mail the Kitchen Of the Month: Karen (Bake My Day) this month. You’ll be included in the Buddy Round Up and receive a sharp looking Buddy Badge.

The next part is some of my bit about bread.  I find dough, flour and bread endlessly fascinating and mysterious.  I mean on some level flour, water and especially that library paste white stuff is nothing but BORING … really boring.  But … there is a world of flour out there besides white all purpose flour.  Add yeast to some high quality flours, get even mildly creative with some shaping and then play around with how you can change up the baking of a dough and you have an endless and never ending interesting loaf of bread filling your home with gorgeous aromas, gracing your table with glory and filling all at your table with wonder.  Yes, I love the kneading, the baking, the sharing and the mystery of bread.  I have never baked a boring bread.

I think this Shepherd’s Bread is suppose to be just a very simple, common even if you will, loaf.  Baking this in a pot, be it clay or cast iron or whatever you have, totally changes everything.  This is really an excellent bread and a very thrilling experience.

Shepherd’s Bread

Karen (BakeMyDay) found this recipe in {Bread for All Seasons by Beth Hensperger}

Yield: 1 loaf … celestially HUGE one loaf … or two “just right” sized loaves if you divide the dough and have two large pots with lids to bake them in … and you probably need two ovens to bake those two pots in.

Sponge (takes 2 hours) – (or Refrigerate overnight like I did)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 3/4 oz fresh yeast
2 cups tepid water (460 ml)
2 cups unbleached bread flour, 280 grams total -used all white bread flour
[I saw Karen’s suggestion for 140 white+140 rye long after mine was mixed, will try that next]
1/2 cup sugar (90 gr), I only used 50 grams

Dough (first rise 2.5 hours, second only 15 minutes!)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
70 grams flax seed meal
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil, 90 milliliters/grams
5.1/2 to 6 cups unbleached AP flour or bread flour (770gr + 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup), used 2.5 cups sprouted wheat, remaining bread flour
1/4 cup unbleached AP flour or bread flour


1. Prepare the sponge: In a large bowl mix yeast plus 1 cup of the flour and the sugar using a large whisk. Add remaining cup of flour and beat hard until very smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temp until soft, spongy and pleasantly fermented, 2 hours.
Or refrigerated several hours/overnight.

I mixed the sponge just befor dinner and refrigerated it. I would have left it till morning but the insomniac bird awakened the baker in me at 3 AM … so I started the bread in true baker style.

2. Prepare the dough: Using a wooden spoon, beat down the sponge. Alternatively, beat down the sponge in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a measuring cup, stir the yeast into the warm water to dissolve. Whisk yeast and salt into 1 cup of flour. Add the warm water and olive oil to the sponge and beat well. Add the yeasted, salted flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating vigorously until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Will be firm yet springy and resilient.
I dipped my open hand into flour to add very small amounts to prevent really sticky dough. This is a well hydrated dough so don’t be tempted to add in too much extra flour. I used slightly less than 5 and a half cups.
Place the dough in a floured deep container, dust the top with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temp until tripled in bulk, 2.1/2 – 3 hours.

When I put this dough in my usual 4 quart rising bucket, it was already at the half way mark. I wasn’t comfortable with that so I cleaned out the 6 quart rising bucket. Since this dough tripled in bulk, I think that was the right choice.

4. Shaping:
Again turn out the dough on a clean surface. It will be slightly sticky from the long rise. My dough had huge bubbles in it and was very light and airy. Knead in about 1/4 cup more flour to make a firmer dough – I only added about half of the quarter cup flour, about 1 minute – dough is sticky (more than post-it note sticky) I divided the dough into two equal sized balls. Pull the ends tightly to the center of the loaf to form a smooth bottom and sides. Mist the surface with water. Using about 2 tbs of flour, heavily coat the top surface. Using a serrated knife, slash the top surface decoratively, no more than 1/4 inch deep to allow steam to escape and to allow room for the dough to expand.

Karen has used a photo of this bread many times on her blog; it is picture perfect gorgeous.  Mine wasn’t absolutely perfect but close enough for me.

5. Karen offered to send the directions for baking the bread in a charcoal ash pit … since I have the book, I read them, fun to read, don’t think I’ll be baking the bread that way.

6. Cloche instructions: Sprinkle the dish with flour and place the dough ball in the center of the dish. Move the dough around to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit with flour. Cover with the cloche dome/bell and let rest at room temp 15 minutes. The dough rose only slightly in that 15 minutes. Before placing in the oven, rinse the inside of the cloche bell with water, draining off excess drips. Since I was baking mine in a cast iron pot with same lid, I skipped this rinse step. Place cover over the bread and place in the preheated 425F oven.
Bake 10 minutes.
Lower thermostat to 400F and bake a further 25-35 minutes.
Remove the bell after 30 minutes of baking to allow the loaf to brown thoroughly.

7. Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

*** If you’d like to use your bread baking stone or tiles; let rise a second time for 35 minutes then use same oven setting but don’t lower the temp. and bake until the bread is golden brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped.

This dough tripled in the oven. This is a very large amount of dough! If I hadn’t divided it in half, I think it would have been way too much for the le Creuset Dufou pan (7 quart) I used to bake one loaf. Without the pot creating steam, my free form loaf suffered and physics took over. Without the steam, the hot oven formed a tight solid skin on the bread preventing it from rising. My two loaves from the same dough, remember I divided this dough in half, looked like distant cousins when I took them out of the oven. Next time I’ll either have another pot with a lid to bake the second loaf in or perhaps try a loaf pan.

My it’s such good bread … and you really should bake it.

What IS this Buddy thing?

The Bread Baking Babes are a closed group but we thought it would be fun to reward people who take the effort of baking our breads with us and give them a nice Buddy Badge and mention in a round up post every month. Just to say thank you for baking along and sharing your thoughts with us.

Since we are Babes and do no obey to rules, there are nearly no rules for Buddies, except these two:

1.Bake the featured bread, snap a pic & share your thoughts about how you liked it (or not liked it)

2.Send  an email to Kitchen of the Month.  Karen at bakemyday at gmail dot com to notify me and make it easier to write the round up.

Don’t forget to visit my fellow Bread Baking Babes to see how they baked and also… visit our Katie! She is the BBBBB (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire) who writes up such lovely round ups of all the BBB Breads every month!

This Bread is going to Susan for YeastSpotting!


My Lunch Salad

I do love left-overs.  I really do love them.  I mean what could be better than a meal just waiting for you. So especially when I’m making something I know is good, I’ll make extra.   BUT, I never serve left-overs; we don’t eat left-overs.  Left-over just sounds wrong doesn’t it, sort of tired, something to be forgotten.

Remember these from the little Lamb and Tomato Breads w lentil salad … right, we had left overs.

So, today for lunch I took the left-over lentils and beets, added one beefsteak tomato cubed, an avocado cubed, a small sliver of smoked salmon, salt & Aleppo pepper and …

Blam, is that the right word?  It was really a fabulous lunch.   Would you call this left-over?  Nothing about it seemed left-over to me.  I didn’t feel like I was eating yesterday’s dinner.   That’s why I call these