Fun With Francine – Baguettes!

Francine and I had another play date! Whoo hoo!

wpid-20140210_073632.jpgit’s a yeast party

I decided to try again with baguettes, as I tried in this post, only correcting some of my mistakes. Less whole wheat flour, more room temperature time. Again, this is loosely based on Pain a l’Ancienne from Peter Reinhart. This time, even looserly based.

wpid-20140222_080348.jpg“looserly based” – phrase made up by BMary to describe adventures in making a mess and ignoring better judgement of others

As this was a real fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventure, I feel that it would be okay for me to post the recipe. It’s not even close to the original.

wpid-20140223_105858.jpgcertainly worked though. yeah, baby, you eat that bowl, ya bad yeasty beasties.

Obviously, you would need a mother starter for this. If you don’t have one, well, you should make one. It’s not difficult, promise!

Francine is a whole wheat mother starter. There are as many varieties as there are types of flour. But they are basically wild yeast that you collect from where ever you choose to leave the flour/water mixture at. Don’t me intimidated. It works pretty flawlessly. Just be patient.

wpid-20140223_110034.jpgon the counter! this is like the best lazy person’s bread ever.

wpid-20140223_110347.jpguse a bench knife to cut it into strips. no shaping required!

wpid-20140223_120105.jpgbaked up decent, probably could still tweak it a bit.

wpid-20140223_134454.jpgwhat’s on the inside is what’s important.

Ok, so here we go:

2 and 1/4 C Water

3 and 1/2 C Bread Flour (or AP, whatever)

2 C Whole Wheat Flour

2 tsp Salt

1/2 C Mother Starter (that has been left at room temperature overnight)

Put water in bowl. Put starter in water in said bowl. Mix flours in gradually in said bowl. Add salt somewhere in between. Mix until consistent. Set on counter until the bread dough attempts to eat the bowl. Might be a long time. If it’s too late to bake, just chuck it in the fridge. Let it warm up an hour before you bake. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Like really, preheat that baby. Pull out dough onto well floured workspace. Stretch dough (try not to degass it!) into a rectangle shape. Cut with bench knife into long strips. Put onto a greased pan and allow to rest while oven preheats. Put bread in oven. (NO WAY!) After two minutes, turn down the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for another 7ish. Check to make sure bread is baking evenly and has not turned into a calculadora. Rotate if it is not baking evenly and bake another 7 minutes, or until bread is at 205 degrees and brown and delicious looking. If it turns into a calculadora, call the oven repair person or your local priest. Try to wait ten minutes before consuming all loaves. Don’t burn yourself.

This version is much less bitter than the last one, due to the reduction in whole wheat. I think my next attempt will be a boule which is fancy French speak for shaping dough into a ball. If I do attempt that, I am probably going to have to modify the proofing times. We’ll see what happens!

Results from Francine a l’Ancienne!

Finally Francine got to work for me!

wpid-20140218_095833.jpgi’m awake!

If you recall yesterday morning we were here:



So I was pretty thrilled that we got Francine a l’Ancienne to wake up. Next time, I will probably feed her and leave her out overnight before I mix up another batch.

wpid-20140218_100040.jpghappy mess

wpid-20140218_100443.jpgnot my prettiest work, but this dough is wet.

wpid-20140218_100739.jpgit’s okay, i’ll eat the ugly pieces.

wpid-20140218_110444.jpgbaked up, my new gigantic cooling rack.

wpid-20140218_111102.jpgholy moly!

Well, I definitely scored on the crumb! I gave it a taste test and unfortunately, we do need some improvements. Too much whole wheat made the bread a little more bitter than I would like. It will be great with soup or to scoop up sauces in, but it could be better. I had planned on using more bread flour in my ratio (I think I ended up with 70% whole wheat and 30% bread flour) but the dough firmed up before I got to the ratio I was planning on, which was six cups of flour, not four and a half or so. So lesson learned for next time, however I don’t think there’s going to be a problem getting this bread eaten!

While Francine was baking I went out and fed the wild birds and scooped a poop zone aka turdundra for the greyhound. I don’t know about you, but I would not like to poop up to my elbows in snow. I took a few snaps so you could see how snowy it is here!

wpid-20140218_102455.jpgdoesn’t do it justice

wpid-20140218_102642.jpgsad flamingo

wpid-20140218_102600.jpgi almost had to borrow some huskies to get over to the tree

wpid-20140218_102631.jpglast years hops

It needs to warm up here before I go crazy!!!

Francine a l’Ancienne

Good morning everyone!

wpid-20140210_073632.jpgpet yeast. it’s weird around here.

Francine and I had a play date last night. I decided to try using her as a starter for a delayed fermentation bread. I loosely based it on Peter Reinhart’s Pain a l’Ancienne from his book, just to get the proportions right. Ok, not even. I can’t even pretend that I used the book. Let me rephrase, I used experience from making the former described recipe and threw my hands in the air like I just don’t care and I might have farted at caution.

wpid-1392214955324.jpghave you met me? i do that a lot. my motto is “f*ck it, send”

Basically, I started with about two cups of water, a half cup of Francine, enough whole wheat flour to thicken, a couple teaspoons of salt and enough bread flour to make sure we have some structure. I used about a cup or a half a cup less than I would normally use, because I intend for this to be a very wet dough and hopefully (!) it will make a beautiful crumb. I wanna see more holes than Ron Jeremy. Ok, that was awful, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t come up with a better analogy.

So, I am sure you’re all dying to know, WHAT HAPPENED?

wpid-20140216_190849.jpgwater, salt, Francine and stuff

wpid-20140216_191040.jpgi figured i would mix Francine in first

wpid-20140216_191221.jpgbefore the bread flour

wpid-20140216_191748.jpgafter the bread flour…

Then I put the whole thing in the fridge overnight. This morning we have:

wpid-20140217_072927.jpgstuff…just sit tight…

Ok, my bowl doth not overflow. I am going to leave her out until I have to go to work and see what happens, if she rises a bit more. I mean, it obviously rose a bit, but not as much as I was hoping for. So I am going to give her some time. Francine likes to take her time, that is for certain and I don’t mind. If I have to bake her tomorrow, tomorrow I shall! I’ve got plenty of shenanigans to keep me busy.

Today I have to FINALLY make some calls for the whole wedding thing I am going to go through with on June 28th, of this year. God help me. I hate wedding planning with a severe passion. Everything is lined up, but I haven’t made arrangements. We’re going to have it in the back yard, so we need chairs and a portajohn or two. Also I need someone to officially make it so. And I need to call and order a pig for the pig roast. All the other food we are going to make, just salads and sides. It’s a picnic wedding! Ice cream and cookies for dessert. Screw cake, I don’t like cake. And I have never baked a cake, but I can bake cookies! Plus I have to get some of my grandmother’s jewelry fixed up, get to making my dress (groan) and probably 20 other things I have written down somewhere on the Great To Do List. Ugh, I am so glad I am not having a “real” wedding with a banquet hall, crappy catering and a fondant cake that tastes like cardboard. Do you know how much that costs? A lot. A whole disgusting lot. For what? Chair clothing? Can you see it? “Ma’am, I see you’ve refused to spend $5000 on coverings for these banquet chairs and therefore I am leaving.” Ha! One of these days I’ll post the Great To Do List, when I get some done!

all dressed in red, always the bride, off with her head, all dressed in white, off with her head

courtney sings the blues

Cinnamon Rolls and French Bread

What a baking day I had yesterday! I was finally getting over this cold and I decided I should skip one more day of work. But, um, I should, um, bribe my coworkers. With cinnamon buns. Because who couldn’t be bought by home made cinnamon buns?

wpid-20140211_060405.jpgain’t nobody. i could buy you with the smell.

Also I had to make bread for R, as she is trading me an ironing board. So I decided to try a french bread with 100% mother starter (since named Francine) instead of commercial yeast. So here we go!

Sunday I did the pre-frement, again with 100% Francine (mother starter) and I decided to omit the salt that I usually use in that pre-ferment because I have read (and noted) that mamma starter with her wild yeasty beasties tends to be a slower grower than commercial yeast.

wpid-20140210_092126.jpgpieces of the pre-ferment, mixing with the final dough

wpid-20140210_092244.jpgwhen i make bread and things are looking this shaggy, i usually pull it out of the bowl and just start kneading.

wpid-20140210_093632.jpgfrench bread on it’s way!

Phew! Now the cinnamon rolls. I’ve never made these before, so God willing and the creek don’t rise, it will not turn into a grapadora or anything other than delicious.

wpid-20140210_113831.jpgthere is a lot of butter in there…

wpid-20140210_114656.jpgnot going to lie, i tasted the dough, just to make sure it didn’t taste like a grapadora

wpid-20140210_144135.jpgand now we rest.

wpid-20140210_114755.jpgyou can see why i made enormous towels for bread baking. i can’t be the only person crazy enough to make two kinds of bread at once?

My plan was to do all the proofing and shaping for the cinnamon buns and then leave them in the fridge to bake off this morning. So they’ll be hot when I get to work. My cold shall be forgiven!

wpid-20140210_152110.jpgshaped baguettes. i never bother to score them. that’s just me.

wpid-20140210_145100.jpgthis is what rolled out goodness looks like. plus, i am an idiot.

wpid-20140210_145940.jpgcutting them down

And we rest…

wpid-20140210_152155.jpgbread takes a lot of rest. I took a nap too.

At about 5 pm I started to bake the french loaves and put the cinnamon buns in the fridge, lightly covered.

wpid-20140210_175528.jpg wpid-20140210_175514.jpgthat just looks tasty…

This morning I hauled my bulk out of bed at 5am (ok, I am usually up at 5am, but I’ve been sick!) to make the buns, hon.

wpid-20140211_051941.jpgfrosting. which is literally milk and powdered sugar. if you buy frosting out of a can, you clearly have not lived.


They took quite a bit longer to bake, but that’s probably because I am an idiot and cut too many. So the pan was overstuffed. Alas and alack, I made it work.


Whew! With an hour to spare before I have to bring these babies in, I am going to make some coffee!

wpid-20140211_063742.jpgafter the frosting soaked in a bit. damn, I should’ve saved some for my coffee!

Italian Baguette with Mother Starter

Ok, last post, I PROMISE.

Sorry, when I have time off, I get to work. So I did a bunch of stuff today. Last, but not least was an italian baguette in which I used the mother starter.

wpid-20140204_112110.jpgjust being stuff

I was planning on an italian baguette for my neighbor who has been plowing our driveway. Or, maybe he’s just playing with his bobcat. Either way, my fiance nor myself have had to shovel our very long driveway. Can’t complain at all.

However, I discovered, to my dismay, I was very low on commercial yeast. I guess making a mother starter means you completely forget that you might need commercial yeast eventually and just pretend you never need to buy any more. Also, I was in pajamas and I do not go out in pajamas and I am really, really lazy. I couldn’t make it to the store, obviously.

Ugh. Apparently you can roll your eyes at yourself.

So I thought, since I was technically going to make a biga and I didn’t have time to let it chill in the fridge over night, why not use the mother starter, which has been in the fridge eating and farting whatever yeast eats and farts?

So I did. Ok, more accurately, I took a stab at it. Totally just went by the seat of my pants. What, would I put it in the oven and it would turn into a stapler? Worst case scenario, my fiance and I could eat bread stored in the freezer and I could make the neighbor’s baguette some other time. Most likely scenario, bread. Taste, a mystery. But I was fairly confident it would be bread.

So I mixed up the biga as I would normally and added several heaping spoonfuls of mother starter.

wpid-20140204_112258.jpguh, hi. no, we don’t know what she’s doing either.

A very, very wet, sticky biga was suddenly on my hands. Literally.


i know this is a spatula. spatulas for every occasion!

Adding flour until, gee, I don’t know, it became somewhat solid…

wpid-20140204_113139.jpgif i threw it at the ceiling, it would’ve stuck. like a turtle?

And then I left it to rise. Or, make itself into a pancake…

wpid-20140204_142906.jpgnot unlike my chest…

Eh, the dough was still awful wet, but again, seat of my pants. Keep on trucking

wpid-20140204_144903.jpgthat is unlike my chest.

wpid-20140204_144956.jpgback to the bowl with ye!

And then I looked at the clock, did some math and went, wow, Brittany, you’re an idiot. There was no way in ever loving Heaven that this was going to be on time. Corner cutting time! I left it to rise again until mostly doubled.

wpid-20140204_170436.jpgi do not lie when I say my fiance said, while I was taking this picture: “it looks like a butt.”

wpid-20140204_170602.jpgthere’s something wrong with that butt.

wpid-20140204_170624.jpgpinch, roll, pinch, roll


At this exact moment I had, ohhhh, an hour to finish up. And I needed about an hour and a half. Eh, whatever, this is the “screw the rules” bread. Again, I don’t think it’s going to be a file cabinet when I take it out.

wpid-20140204_175254.jpgit’s a lamp!

The oven spring was insane. It easily doubled or tripled in the oven. And, last bonehead move, promise:

wpid-20140204_175904.jpgcut it too early, but we were hungry!

It turned out really, really tasty. Just a little sour from the mother starter, but it was spot on delicious!

Tomorrow I am going to bring the neighbor his loaf, it’s late and cold and terrible out there. Also I wanted to give him instructions on storage and I wanted to make sure it didn’t taste like a desk chair.

100% Whole Wheat Bread Made From A Mother Starter (plus a few crochet pics)

wpid-20140127_123134.jpgWhoo hoo!

Finally got a chance to use my mother starter yesterday! I prepped the night before with a soaker and fed the starter and made the loaf pictured above. Then I decided, why not make it again, only with friends?

wpid-20140126_190001.jpgcompelling…needs wine…

wpid-20140127_082255.jpgmixing the soaker, the starter and some other ingredients…

So I called some friends to come over and drink a bottle or two of wine…which might be why I didn’t manage to get pictures of the loaves I made them instead of my poor burned loaf…but hey! It was delicious and fun!

wpid-20140127_082503.jpgproof that you can handle wet dough while inebriated…

wpid-20140127_103029.jpgi tried to make it pretty…this was before I was drunk, I made two loaves yesterday and that is why i needed a bottle of wine.

wpid-20140127_123134.jpgit’s…brown…? my hangover and i are hilarious today.

I am really glad I made that first loaf before they came over because as you can see, it is a bit burned. Honestly, I can’t put a finger on it, but a lot of times when I bake, I have to bake the bread for half the time called for. I mean, obviously it’s my oven, but it doesn’t seem to run hot. I don’t know, I just try to remember to keep a better eye on it. Their loaves cooked up in 20 minutes flat and were beautiful. The bread is delicious and moist otherwise. A nice crumb, I’d put up a picture of the inside, but, um, there isn’t much left. We are really good at eating bread.

Also, I’ve been looking at a lot of crochet blogs lately and had some definite afghan envy. I do crochet, when I am not drunkenly making bread. So real quick here are some of my afghans:

wpid-20131120_085037.jpga single crochet with a spike stitch stash buster WIP

wpid-20131114_115442.jpgthey greyhound approves

wpid-20131023_180927.jpgyet another greyhound approved blanket, this one was my first ever, so it’s a…something. that something is not square. it was supposed to be a ripple. i did make a queen sized ripple that is actually the correct shape, but it’s in the basement and i am too lazy (hungover?) to bother to take new pictures apparently.

wpid-20131113_120559.jpgmy reversible blanket, double crochet squares, one is a regular square motif, the other is, well just three rows of color. i made them the same size and then i single crochet the squares together and then slip stitched the whole thing together. whew!

The Mother Starter

Good morning everyone!

My mother starter is finally ready for use! Hurray!

wpid-20140125_083543.jpgpet yeast

wpid-20140125_083533.jpgfrom above

Finally! I was worried in the beginning because my starter took a very long time to get lively. Over a week of babying and watching and feeding but finally, we have a healthy group of wild yeast to bake with! I created the starter with instructions from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.

Mother starter, from baby starter to momma:

wpid-20140110_163210.jpgnot dreadfully exciting yet

wpid-20140122_173217.jpgstarting to rise up a bit, after I mix:

wpid-20140122_173306.jpgdeflating down. smells delicious and tangy!

After about a week of all that, rising, mixing, feeding, rising, mixing, feeding, I was ready to make an actual mother starter. Here she is when I first mixed her up:

wpid-20140124_081738.jpghappy little yeastie beasties?

wpid-20140125_083533.jpgvery happy little yeastie beasties!

I’m going to make the basic whole wheat loaf on Monday, so I will of course update you all then. Today, I am going wedding dress shopping with my friend who is getting married (I am going to make my wedding dress, so no temptation there, but maybe inspiration!) then off to an old school no cell phones allowed dinner party. Can’t wait! Busy Saturday!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! I look forward to seeing what you’ve all been up to! 😀