Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bread Number 95: 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

It is true that I am unable to follow anyone else's recipe except for my sister's challah recipe. Bread #95 bread is roughly the Reinhart recipe of a 100 percent whole wheat sandwich bread, but with the significant differences of using sourdough starter and changing the timing due to real-life needs to leave the house and to sleep occasionally. I've now made it twice and it had lovely oven spring each time. The first try was immediately frozen for offspring to eat healthy-bread-from-Mom.

I managed to make multiple breads for the offspring before they left the nest following their winter vacations. I have also discovered another local bread soulmate, who has furnished me with some challah recipes, one sourdough, and what looks like a nice rye.

Not a quick bread
This bread is at least a two-day affair because it involves a soaker, a biga, and running out to the store for yogurt when you find that you ran out. A biga is basically a dough-like pre-dough, more solid than a sponge, and a soaker allows flour to sit in a moistened state, with some salt, anywhere from overnight to a few days. This is similar to an autolyse, except for the much longer duration and the salt. I used a full-fat yogurt with part of the layer of cream that sits on top. It's also grass-fed and I am sure the happy cows were well brought up and were educated at highly-esteemed cow/cattle institutions of higher bovine learning. (You need to watch the early Portlandia episode to get that joke completely.)

Ingredients and instructions

226g whole wheat flour
5g salt
198g yogurt (mine was not watery)

Mix well and do not add water, milk, or more yogurt until finished mixing. This pre-dough will appear dry, but do not worry, the liquid is most likely sufficient. Cover bowl after mixing and leave on counter. I left mine out for almost nine hours, but you have up to 24 according to Reinhart's recipe.

229g whole wheat flour
100g starter (mine is part whole wheat at this point)
160g water

Mix and cover. The instructions call for a prolonged refrigeration, but I wanted it to proceed that evening, so I only put it in the fridge for about five hours and then left it on the counter in a warm kitchen for another two.

14g coconut oil - melted (Trust me, I did not melt it the first time and the second try went much better.)
10g honey
6g salt

I mixed and then let the dough sit for five minutes, at which point I kneaded for two minutes and did a stretch and fold. I have little patience for kneading. Perhaps I have to listen to better music or have something to watch on TV. I did three more stretch and folds at half hour intervals. Then, the hour being late, I covered the dough and put it in the fridge for 23 hours.

Baking preparation
FYI: This bread gets baked at a rather low temperature and takes relatively long to bake. Preheat the oven to only 425 degrees. I preheated with the oblong la cloche inside so that I could get a longer, thinner shape, though not nearly a baguette.

I also have been trying putting rice flour inside BEFORE preheating. This accomplishes two things, but heed the warning that follows.
1. Less heat loss when putting in dough.
2. Less time standing in front of hot oven.

BUT - here is the warning:
When opening the la cloche, stand back because the slightly baked or burnt rice flour can sometimes be smoky and cause your eyes to tear. This did not happen with the oven on this relatively low temperature, but I have experienced that when the oven is hotter.

Sprinkle the counter with rice flour. Right before baking, take the dough out of the fridge and shape into an oblong loaf on top of the rice flour counter area. This is very easy with a cold dough, plus the rice flour gives more anti-sticking protection for your dough. If you have ever been unable to get a dough out of a la cloche, a Dutch oven, or other contraption, you know what a desperate situation it is to look at a beautifully risen loaf and be afraid it will be ruined because it is stuck to whatever you baked it in.

Sprinkle the top of the dough with water. I did not use seeds on top, but go ahead, it would be great. Do a few slashes, maybe four or five, and then put that baby inside the la cloche or whatever and bake.

Baking and voila
After putting dough in, reduce oven temperature immediately to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes and turn around la cloche. Do NOT open it. Let that hot air and steam stay inside. Total baking time 50 minutes. Perfect. I love it when I guess the timing exactly right. So proud.

Beautiful oven spring! Taste: Mixed voting here. I really like this one; it's a good basic bread either for sandwiches (because the yogurt softens the dough and makes the bread easy to cut) or for just some bread and butter. Perfectly lovely addition to the bread repertoire. However, a spoiled family member, whose tastes run to a strong preference for rye breads and now breads with rosemary (with a decided dislike for spelt), found this bread eh, as in average, okay, but definitely edible as he has managed to voluntarily eat it a number of times and without complaint.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Miraculous Remake: Bread Number 76 = Tons of Water + Anxiety

Now there are two proofs that a divine presence exists in the universe: (1) I have parallel parked (seldom, but it has happened), and (2) a glob of a dough turned into an amazing bread.

I remade bread #76 with changes, making it larger and with some fresh rosemary. I have been working for so long with my standard recipe, with slight variations, that I had forgotten what it is like to babysit a dough and not know when it will be ready. Felt like the parent of a newborn.

501g whole wheat flour
523g water

Mix, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

100g starter
1g fresh rosemary
11g salt
104 percent hydration makes for a dough, but a wet one.

Let rest for 20 minutes and tried to do two stretch and folds, each 20 minutes apart. Actually ended up kneading for about a minute each time. Let rest to rise, covered, of course.

Anxiety and time pressure
At 3.5 hours I did a slight mix/knead because some  liquid had pooled slightly around the edges. At 6.66 hours, the volume of the dough was looking good, much expanded, but not popping of  a few large bubbles - think pizza, not sponge or starter bubbles.

Math skills off: I thought I had nine hours to let dough rest, but I had only seven, and dough was being prepared for New Year's Eve dinner party for which husband was whipping up a storm of impressive appetizers, soup, and many dishes. On the plus side, the dough smells heavenly with the freshly ground wheat flour mixed in with the rosemary. Love that fresh rosemary right off the backyard plant. You have to love a plant that thrives without any maintenance whatsoever.

So, at 6.8 hours, did a stretch and fold, though not sure at 104 percent hydration, with wet hands and a goopy, though cohesive, dough, whether one can actually call what I did a stretch and fold.

Moving on blindly
Now we go into uncharted territory.

Toping ingredients:
rice flour
sesame seeds
ground flaxseed (not flaxseed meal)

Start with rice flour and sprinkle generously into a bowl. Rice flour is between you and sticky disaster of a dough that will not come out of the bowl. Then follow with sesame seeds and ground flaxseed. These will add to taste and look lovely. Cover bowl with plastic, beeswax, wet towel, or, in my case, a shower cap that gets reused a million times.

Promise myself NOT to touch dough for 1.25 hours.

Because dough is quite wet, I decide to use the Dutch oven.  AND sprinkle generously with rice flour before putting Dutch oven in the oven. Why? I have never tried this before. Usually I do my sprinkling, if any, of rice flour over a million-degree oven just before placing the dough inside and the Dutch oven gets particularly hot and scary. But I'm in an experimental, though anxious, mood. I know the rice flour will burn, but maybe it will work and save a good 30 seconds of accumulated heat when I plop that dough in the awesomely hot Dutch oven in an hour.

Preheat oven to 480 degrees with Dutch oven - and its rice flour - inside. Wait for an hour.

1. Grammatical tense agreement, as you see, has gone out the window.
2. More anxiety to follow.

I am anxious because I did the rice flour thing in the dough bowl instead of spraying or wiping it with oil. I could have put on sesame seeds and flaxseeds just before baking. Will the dough stick to the bowl like the gloopy mess it could be and not even make it into the oven? What was I thinking? And will the burned rice flour at the bottom of the Dutch oven ruin whatever chances of a good bread?

For the hour of anxiety I do KP duty and attempt to keep up with cleaning of bowls, measuring cups, and other accoutrements of husband's prolific cooking. This will end up making no difference as the next morning I clean up for three hours, which had been preceded by three minutes of wondering how to start and thoughts of never again having a clean kitchen. I must say that the water in the sink the next morning was about as dirty and greasy as an environmentally toxic disaster area. 

In theory
Experimentation, innovation, all wonderful  in theory, but not safe and when compared to the recipe followers of this world with their known outcomes and their accomplishments of set goals time after time, one can doubt. In fact, doubt is part of all creativity and seeking really. Certainty keeps one in the same hole. Enough philosophy; back to bread.

I was imagining a messy disaster and felt I was merely going through the motions to see how badly this bread would turn out. It was a mess of a dough - no shape. It could not be placed on the counter, shaped, slashes done on top. No, I plopped it, in the purest sense of the term, quite unglamorously into the bottom - really bottom corner, if a circular-shaped bottom can have  a corner - of the Dutch oven. I quickly sprinkled some more ground flaxseed and sesame seeds on top, put the top on the Dutch oven, and prayed, but only briefly because this was not going to turn out well.

Baking results - must peek
Baking time: 45 minutes at 480 degrees, the whole time covered with top of Dutch oven so could not peek.

OMG! Miracle! Show tunes practically blasting in the air, though only I am hearing them. A gorgeous, deep brown bread with perfectly sprinkled organic, artisanal stuff on top. This unattractive, unshapen dough was actually the ugly duckling of a later incredible Cinderella of a bread, a perfect dinner party ooh-it's-beautiful-and-delicious-amazing bread. Resorting to mixing fairy tale metaphors inappropriately. Cinderella was always beautiful; she just needed time off, nicer clothes, and definitely a shower.

Kept eating it the next few days as the husband enjoyed his frozen bagels over the winter break. More bread for me. Incredible and must make again. Perhaps anxiety was key ingredient.

Divine bread making spirit in the universe - only half kidding
Received so much more than I deserved unless bread deity believes, like me, that worrying produces good results. Perhaps a kindred spirit. Deity of bread making clearly was smiling upon me with favor. I felt blessed and relieved that dinner party bread did not turn out to be punishment for experimenting. Grace, gratitude, and selfishness.

Taste: Fantastic, amazing, great. Do not want to share.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bread Number 94 - Spelt With Spelt Starter

I like spelt and I like it better when the bread is 100 percent spelt rather than partly spelt. I'm not that way with rye or whole wheat. I am flexible with those. So this time, I went all the way and made a new starter. This took a couple of extra days, but I learned something about spelt. Spelt flour requires less water than wheat in both the starter and the dough. I found myself adding spelt flour a few times.

Only 10 or 20 grams of regular starter will jumpstart the new one without having to go through the effort and anxiety of creating a starter from scratch. In the evening, I added to the bit of starter to about 50g of water and 50g of spelt flour and the spelt starter was happy in the morning, though a bit on the wet side.

133g spelt starter
186g slept flour
186g water

Mix, cover, and put in fridge overnight. Forgot to take it out in the morning and left it in the fridge for 25 hours. Took it out in the evening and got rid of excess liquid and added 10g spelt flour. Left out the sponge for eight hours. Then put sponge back in fridge to make dough that evening.  Life gets in the way of bread.

302g spelt flour
11g salt
110g water

Mix and mix ingredients with sponge until all doughy and uniform. I did three stretch and folds at intervals of 15 to 30 minutes. I then covered the dough and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Preheated oblong la cloche in oven at 475 degrees for one hour. Took out dough and shaped it for oblong bread. Did a few slashes on top. Rolled bottom of dough in rice flour and sprinkled rice flour - generous amount - onto bottom - especially corners - of oblong la cloche.

Baking time a surprising 43 minutes. Usually breads take less time for that shape. I thought the taste was great. The spouse's review was eh okay. Translation: Better than normal bakery bread, but nothing extraordinary. He has become too accustomed to a regular diet of homemade bread; plus, he is a rye man and nothing else pleases him quite like a good rye. I still love the spelt.

Bread Number 93: Rosemary Is Name of the Game

OMG! I would put one gram of rosemary - about half a handful for my small hands - in every bread after this. What a flavor boost and such a nice aroma. Plus, the stuff grows totally wild even in the cold. Who knew? I was just experimenting and I am generally against all ingredients beyond the basics of flour, water, natural leavening culture, and salt, with the exception of caraway seeds, sesame seeds, or maybe flaxseed meal or wheat bran. 

I made this bread twice and it was a big hit both times. If it had not been for the gentle prodding not to overdo a good thing, I might never leave out rosemary again. Spectacular!

Ingredients and instructions for a  possibly three-day bread

Day 1 - Sponge
100g starter
210 to 220g water (I used more than 200 because my starter was stiff)
190 to 200g bread flour (same as the water, but used less when my starter had a relatively low moisture level)

Mix and cover. I usually leave out this sponge for eight hours in a warm kitchen. For a cool kitchen, in the high 50s to 60s Fahrenheit, I can go 10 to 12 hours, which equals to a whole work day. To truly get convenience, mix the sponge in the evening, put it in the fridge, and take it out to rest in the room temperature for an entire work day.

Day 2 - Dough
The sponge, having rested on the kitchen counter in the room temperature for eight to 12 hours, should be nice and bubbly, exuberant looking, in fact. When you see this, you have a window of an hour or two to complete the mixing of the dough, depending on how bubbly the sponge is and how warm the room is. I am always more careful in the hot weather, but this is a very friendly, flexible bread to make. Don't be anxious.

Leave sponge in its bowl and, in a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. When they are mixed thoroughly, add them to the sponge. Then it will be time to mix in the water.

50 to 75g farro flour
200 to 220 whole wheat flour
0 to 50g white flour
Make sure the flour adds up to 300g
11g salt
1g fresh rosemary, cut into 1/8 to 1/3 inch pieces and washed
102 to 115g water

With the flour mix, it depends on what I have in the house, how late it is, and whether I want a lighter or heavier bread.

Mix all of the dry ingredients, then put in them in the sponge. Add water and mix thoroughly, about five to 10 minutes by hand.

Then do four stretch and folds at 15 to 30-minute intervals. I write a checklist of 1-4 on a piece of paper so that I do not lose count. The dough should get progressively less fragile and more cohesive with each stretch. I am usually rushing or in the middle of other things, so I generally do 15 or 20 minutes.

Cover the dough bowl and refrigerate for 24 to 30 hours. I usually go for 24, but with a similar bread, I was not up for midnight baking, so I left it overnight and baked instead at 6 a.m. A routine, amazing bread resulted. I weighed late night baking against a 6 a.m. wakeup to fire up the oven.

Day 3 - Baking prep and oven time
What I take out to prepare for baking:
My super-hot-oven mitts
Lame (French name for a super-sharp instrument, but you can use a bread knife, for slashing lines in the dough before baking)
Tiny water bowl
Pastry brush
Food thermometer

Preheat oven to 500 degrees for one hour. I preheat with the baking stone and top of la cloche in the oven. These need to be very hot to be ready for the dough. I used the oblong la cloche the second time, which family members prefer, because they think (and they are correct) it is easier to cut an oblong bread than a boule. With the oblong la cloche, I preheat the oven with both the top and bottom.
I made the first one as a boule  and the second as an oblong bread. Either way, I quickly shaped the dough into either a round  or oblong mass, then sprinkled generously with water, and made a cross-slash on top of the middle of the dough.

For putting the dough actually into the oven, I either do it with wet hands and accept that the bottom of the dough will be a little imperfect, or I sprinkle rice flour onto a baking peel (also used for pizzas) and then slide the dough onto the baking stone. Then cover with top of la cloche. I have found that my breads do better this way than with the ice or water technique.

Rice flour
For the oblong breads, I ALWAYS put a thin layer of rice flour in the hot - be careful - bottom of the oblong la cloche. This will prevent sticking and it is so much more pleasant to slide the bread out when it is ready than to use a knife to wedge (is that a verb?) it out, hoping that you do not separate a chunk of the bread while doing so.

For the two versions I baked at 500 for 20 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 475. Total baking time was 45 minutes for the boule and 35 minutes for the oblong bread.

It is nice to have a food thermometer and know that the bread is done inside. I usually take it out at 195 to 203 degrees. Another factor is whether the thermometer probe is wet or gunky - a technical term - with moist dough when you pull it out. It gives me confidence because often breads appear on the outside to be done quite a while (even eight minutes) before they are ready inside.

Taste? Spectacular! The little bit of rosemary adds such a nice scent and taste. You will feel so professional and you might want to save this bread just for yourself. Let others have a share and smile when you get compliments.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bread Numbers 91 and 92: Breads of Affliction and Hope

I am an American who has spent much of the last few weeks in disbelief and sadness at the prospect of having a president who has unabashedly made racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted statements. So after six months of making only old breads and not adding one item to the 108 project, I decided to make matzo, the bread of affliction, of liberation, and of hope, a bread that symbolizes that life is cyclical. A bit of inspiration at a dark time.

Online sources too
For bread #91, I roughly tried the Peter Reinhardt recipe from Whole Grain Breads. For bread #92, I took direction from recipes at a few different websites, some Jewish, some not, some "alternative," which for matzo means using any ingredient beyond water, flour, and salt, and which doesn't care about the 18-minute rule (explained below).

I grew up on the standard Passover matzos of Streits and Horomitz Margareten. Like cardboard right out of a box, but I loved it anyway, especially the whole wheat matzo, which remains my favorite.

Warning: Hebrew and Yiddish words are interspersed because they are so central to preparation and enjoyment of Passover, of which matzo is a central part.

Matzo in Hebrew refers to unleavened bread, which is eaten during the eight-day holiday of Passover to commemorate each year the quick departure the Ancient Israelites made in getting out of Egypt. As the story goes, and the Biblical Hebrew raises as many questions as it answers, the Israelites took their dough, which had not yet been leavened or risen, and left. They baked the dough later (and I do not know whether it was a few hours or a day), producing what were called matzo cakes, though it is generally called, even in the original text, just matzo.

Now, in modern times, to get a kitchen - including the oven - ready for the holiday, one cleans out every cabinet and gets rid of all chametz, which is anything remotely bread-like or already opened prior to the holiday. Much, much more is involved, but a full explanation could - literally - take all day and full explanations can be debated endlessly.

Forget the 18 minutes - this time
I will not go into the laws of Passover, except for two. (1) According to rabbinic law, one of the key regulations governing the making of acceptable Passover matzo is that it must be made in 18 minutes, counting from the first second when water touches flour until putting the dough into the oven. This intimidated me no end. (2) You have to make the matzo in an oven that has been made ready - or kashered - for Passover.

Since it is not now Passover, I baked on my regular - or chametzdich - baking stone, which would definitely not be kosher for use during the holiday because I use it all year round for making bread. Don't ask questions; if you have observed this holiday for your entire life, you know that the special aspects of it are a fantastically clean house when the holiday begins and a week-long celebration of an alternate food reality that results in family bonding and merriment, if only for the matzo-haters to be screaming about how they cannot wait for the holiday to be over. I never had that problem.

Recipe for #91

113g whole wheat flour
2g salt
85g water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix and then divide dough into four small balls. Knead each ball for maybe one minute, until smooth, and let sit for three minutes. The clock is ticking. Knead each ball again for about 30 seconds. On a well-floured surface, roll out each ball separately. I put a little flour on each before rolling it out. The rolling out is easy and quick. Eighteen minutes for a small recipe should be no problem.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees when placing dough in the oven. One baking stone will hold four pieces of rolled-out dough, with the possibility of a bit of overlap, which did not affect the final product at all. The recipe called for a half hour of baking, but mine was totally done at 23 minutes and might have been fine at 20. It was fine without dusting the baking stone or putting little fork holes in the dough, something I justified on the grounds that the Ancient Israelites did not have forks and actually I neglected to read that part of the recipe.

The matzo tasted great; it was crunchy and tasty, though maybe I will try a rye/wheat combination next time. Nothing to be afraid of here.

And then there was #92
The big difference between Breads #91 and #92 is in the baking, with significant changes in temperature and time. And one more difference in a key ingredient that is critical when embarking on anything new - patience. I was patient with bread #91 and more like Lucy and Ethel on the chocolate factory assembly line with bread #92.

For bread #92, I tried whole rye, then half rye, and finally I ended up with 100 percent whole wheat. I used the same proportions and amounts of flour, water, and salt. The whole rye was so sticky that it would not roll out. So I mixed it to make it half whole wheat flour and I put in the right amounts of more water and salt. 

By this time, the clock was ticking and not the 18-minute clock so much as the have-to-make-dinner clock. I still wanted to do a 100 percent whole wheat matzo following the rye. This is exactly the point where the patience ran out and I threw lots more regular flour on the counter, the rolling pin, my hands, and the rye/whole wheat dough. It was looking good in the rollout at first. I believe that with some patience, there would have been a nice matzo produced; but when that stickiness started and the clock showing the late hour, I chucked the dough in the garbage and proceeded directly to do the completely whole wheat version.

I had preheated the oven and the baking stone for one hour in a 500-degree oven. 

I quickly rolled out the whole wheat dough. I made it thin, but probably not as thin as bread #91 - all awry with the patience ebbing. I baked the dough for three minutes and it appeared beautiful, but the taste not so much. It was like a cross between a cracker and pita bread, therefore not satisfying as either.

Virtues can be a challenge

Even with an 18-minute rule in the back or forefront of one's mind - patience is a necessary virtue and practice in making even a quick flat bread.

Two good results: I know I can make matzo (will probably try a half rye again), and I did not think about politics at all.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bread Number 90: 70 Percent Rye with Spices

This recipe was adopted from a recipe for spiced rye rolls in Daniel Leader's Local Breads. I did 73 percent rye and I also made a rye starter beforehand. A slap on the back for some good planning. Apologies in advance if my math was off at all.

I grew the starter over the course of a week, having begun with maybe five grams of my regular starter, and adding only rye flour and water. I did three or four feedings.

150g rye starter
356g water
120g bread flour
365g rye flour
10g salt
4g caraway seeds
2g fennel seeds
2g dried chives

I added different spices than are in the original recipe and I recall a little less definitely that I altered the percentage of rye as well. The dough is has a hydration percentage of 80 percent.

The recipe called for kneading and I poo-pooed that instruction initially. I did one stretch and fold at 23 minutes, but the dough was not hanging together, so I switched gears and kneaded for three minutes. One should always be gentle with rye. It is much more sensitive a grain than wheat.

I covered the dough and let it rise for 6.5 hours. This is what teleworking is for. Instead of chatting with co-workers on the way back from the bathroom, I checked the dough and pondered for 20 seconds whether it was ready. Very productive.

Baking preparation
A  rye with such a high hydration percentage will not do well, in my opinion, without support. I made this bread in a loaf pan. I covered the loaf pan with the top of an oblong la cloche. It's a little clumsy kind of arrangement, but with slow movement, it works well.

First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rye does not need super high heat.

Second, place the top of the oblong la cloche in the oven to preheat. Let it preheat for one hour while you do the final rise.

Third, oil hands.

Fourth, use those oiled hands to put the nice, goopy rye dough into the loaf pan and cover. The final rise happens in the loaf pan. This is a plus because no further handling of the dough with actual hands is necessary. 

The final rise was another place where I diverged from the recipe. I did a much longer final rise. After feeling like the first rise could have been longer, I added a half hour onto the final rise, which, conveniently, matched the preheat of one hour and made me feel comfortable staying with my usual final rise duration.

I kept the 450 degree temperature throughout the baking. Baking time of 40 minutes.

There was some rise, but not much. This is a rye and though rye is lovely, it does not do the glittzy, glamour of a spectacular wheat oven spring.

This bread had a wonderful taste of a dark rye with nice spicing that lent flavor without overpowering the bread. Very pleased.

Bread Number 89: Whole Wheat, Farro, and Serious Procrastination

Here I am, no closer to actually starting the challah challenge than I was a year ago. All it takes to be ready is get out the ingredients and begin, but my wonderful family is actively opposed to the making of any but my traditional, tried and true challah. I can use that as an excuse, but I have plenty more, none of which amount to a hill of beans because I am perfectly capable of this. And now, on the cusp of a month on the road, I am devising a plan to involve people other than said family members, people who will be willing to act as taste testers.

As for the plan to make matzah, I have been reading and reading about it, discussing the derivation of the Hebrew word, and procrastinating. I might make it later today if I do not get sidetracked with packing.

Now for a nice combo: Whole wheat and farro is a fantastic combination.

50g farro flour
350g whole wheat flour
200g starter (all purpose flour and water at 100 percent hydration)
310g water
11g salt

All of the berries were ground into flour immediately prior to making the dough. The aroma is heavenly. 

Mix the water and flour. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Add starter to autolyse, mix part way, and then add the salt. Needed to use my hands to mix this dough thoroughly.

I did four stretch and folds, each 15 to 20 minutes apart. Then I let the dough sit, covered, in a warm - not hot - kitchen of about 74 degrees for seven hours.

Shaping and baking
Preheated the oven to 500 degrees with the oblong la cloche inside. I then shaped the dough into an oblong shape, but fatter and stubbier than a baguette. Covered and wrapped the dough in a facsimile of a couche with the beeswax covering instead of a real couche or plastic, though the beeswax material is hard to clean.

Did a one hour final rise. Put slashes across the top of the dough. Before plopping the dough into the dangerously hot la cloche, I sprinkled - liberally - rice flour on the bottom. I have had bad experience with dough sticking to the bottom and the sides of the oblong la cloche. The rice flour works like a charm. 

Plop dough into la cloche, cover, and close that oven door. Reduce temperature immediately to 480 degrees.

Next time, I will roll the dough in the rice flour as well because it stuck to the sides. I got out the dough with a knife, but, frankly, I almost burned myself, just missing touching the outside of the super hot la cloche. One should really heed the instructions one gives to one's children in these types of situations. I was lucky to have avoided a good burn.

Baking time: 30 minutes

Beautiful oven spring. Fantastic taste.