wordloaf.org

A buncha stuff by me, Andrew Janjigian.

Nov 18, 2012

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago | Serious Eats: Chicago #

In case you missed it, I had a post up on SeriousEats Chicago last week, on the meal we had at Grant Achatz's Next this past June.

link

Sep 14, 2012

​F​I​R​E​ ​–​ ​C​L​A​Y​ ​–​ ​F​L​O​U​R​ - ​E​d​i​b​l​e​ ​B​o​s​t​o​n #

breadpot

[Photographs by Michael Piazza]

In case you haven't seen it in print already, my first Edible Boston story is out, on my neighbor Judy Motzkin's BreadPots:

Edible Boston:

On a hot July day, artist Judy Motzkin is in her Cambridgeport studio, adding a quotation from Robert Browning to the lid of one of the 30-or-so BreadPots that await firing in her kiln: “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” Motzkin, a well-regarded ceramicist whose beautiful “smoke-fired” pottery can be found in the permanent collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, now divides her time between her artwork and producing pottery for cooking food. Baking bread, specifically: Motzkin is the creator of the BreadPot, a handmade, covered clay vessel that functions as a miniature oven for a single loaf of bread.

The BreadPot was born out of necessity. “One of the funny things about my career is that all the best things I’ve done have come right out of my life,” she tells me. “… either emotionally important experiences, some event, or because I’ve needed something. And this is a good example of that.”

Aug 29, 2012

Seawater-dulse pain au levain

seawaterdulse

Yesterday, I baked an improved version of my seawater bread: I added seaweed to it. I soaked 20g of Irish dulse in the water until it hydrated, chopped it fine, and added it to the dough during mixing.

seawaterdulse

While subtle, the "sea" flavor is definitely present; the dulse gives the bread a slightly mineral, nutty background note that is quite nice, and not so strong that the bread can't be paired with sweet toppings as well as savory.

seawaterdulse

Seawater-dulse pain au levain (1 680g loaf):

Levain (66%):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Final Dough (70%):

  • 336g flour
  • 238g seawater
  • 100g levain
  • 4g dulse
Aug 29, 2012

Seawater-dulse pain au levain

seawaterdulse

Yesterday, I baked an improved version of my seawater bread: I added seaweed to it. I soaked 20g of Irish dulse in the water until it hydrated, chopped it fine, and added it to the dough during mixing.

seawaterdulse

While subtle, the "sea" flavor is definitely present; the dulse gives the bread a slightly mineral, nutty background note that is quite nice, and not so strong that the bread can't be paired with sweet toppings as well as savory.

seawaterdulse

Seawater-dulse pain au levain (1 680g loaf):

Levain (66%):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Final Dough (70%):

  • 336g flour
  • 238g seawater
  • 100g levain
  • 4g dulse
Aug 27, 2012

3-2-1 Contact!

levain

After working with natural ferments1 for a few years, I've finally settled on a manageable and effective feeding routine. Because I bake at most once or twice a week, I don't feed my starter each and every day, but I do try to feed it at room temperature at least 4 times—twice daily, at 12-hour intervals2—before using it. As long as I'm baking regularly, I find that is good enough to keep it active and mild-flavored. (And if I bake once a week, that means it only spends at most a couple of days in the fridge before it gets used again. When it stays in cold storage much longer than that, I probably feed it 6 or more times before use.)

I keep my levain at 66% hydration, which gives it a dough-like consistency, which I find easier to work with. (It also means that its hydration is very close to that of the breads I make, so I can use more or less of it on the fly without having to recalculate the overall formula.)

The nice thing about a 66% hydration levain is that the formula follows a simple 3:2:1 flour to water to levain ratio, so I don't need to perform any fancy calculations when mixing it up. In other words, my typical feeding routine is usually something like:

Day 1 (AM):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Day 1 (PM):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Day 2 (AM):

  • 100g flour
  • 66g water
  • 33g levain

Day 2 (PM):

  • 300g flour
  • 200g water
  • 100g levain

Which yields around 600g of levain, more than enough to bake 6 1.5-kilo loaves, with a little left over for the next batch. (Don't forget to hold some levain back for next time!)


  1. You'll notice that I tend to use words like "levain", "natural ferment", or simply "starter", rather than "sourdough" to refer to breads that are leavened without commercial yeast. Like many bakers I know, I don't care for the term, because especially to the layperson it conjures up mouth-puckeringly acidic breads like "San Francisco sourdough", when in truth naturally fermented breads can be as mildly flavored and sweet as yeasted breads. I've noticed that to the uninitiated, the idea of sourdough is often unappealing, though nobody ever finds my naturally leavened breads too sour. 

  2. If I was really serious, I'd feed it 3 times a day, every 8 hours. Also, I'd take it with me on vacations and feed it in my hotel room, as some of my professional baker friends do. 

Aug 27, 2012

3-2-1 Contact!

levain

After working with natural ferments1 for a few years, I've finally settled on a manageable and effective feeding routine. Because I bake at most once or twice a week, I don't feed my starter each and every day, but I do try to feed it at room temperature at least 4 times—twice daily, at 12-hour intervals2—before using it. As long as I'm baking regularly, I find that is good enough to keep it active and mild-flavored. (And if I bake once a week, that means it only spends at most a couple of days in the fridge before it gets used again. When it stays in cold storage much longer than that, I probably feed it 6 or more times before use.)

I keep my levain at 66% hydration, which gives it a dough-like consistency, which I find easier to work with. (It also means that its hydration is very close to that of the breads I make, so I can use more or less of it on the fly without having to recalculate the overall formula.)

The nice thing about a 66% hydration levain is that the formula follows a simple 3:2:1 flour to water to levain ratio, so I don't need to perform any fancy calculations when mixing it up. In other words, my typical feeding routine is usually something like:

Day 1 (AM):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Day 1 (PM):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Day 2 (AM):

  • 100g flour
  • 66g water
  • 33g levain

Day 2 (PM):

  • 300g flour
  • 200g water
  • 100g levain

Which yields around 600g of levain, more than enough to bake 6 1.5-kilo loaves, with a little left over for the next batch. (Don't forget to hold some levain back for next time!)


  1. You'll notice that I tend to use words like "levain", "natural ferment", or simply "starter", rather than "sourdough" to refer to breads that are leavened without commercial yeast. Like many bakers I know, I don't care for the term, because especially to the layperson it conjures up mouth-puckeringly acidic breads like "San Francisco sourdough", when in truth naturally fermented breads can be as mildly flavored and sweet as yeasted breads. I've noticed that to the uninitiated, the idea of sourdough is often unappealing, though nobody ever finds my naturally leavened breads too sour. 

  2. If I was really serious, I'd feed it 3 times a day, every 8 hours. Also, I'd take it with me on vacations and feed it in my hotel room, as some of my professional baker friends do. 

Aug 23, 2012

The 3% solution

seawaterbread

So I'd had this idea kicking around for awhile that I should try making bread using seawater while on our annual vacation trip to Provincetown, at the spit end of Cape Cod. I'm not sure what inspired it, but as it turns out it's an entirely reasonable idea. Seawater averages around 3% salt—more or less the same percentage in a loaf of bread (relative to the amount of water, that is), so you can use it in a 1-to-1 swap with the water and salt in any recipe.

The bread came out great, but I don't think you can really taste the seawater in it beyond the salt. (A few tasters thought they discerned something, but I'm pretty sure they were just imagining things.)

You might be wondering if seawater is safe to eat. I don't know if it harbors any unwelcome bacteria or whatnots, but in any case, during the course of baking the water is well above pasturization temperatures long enough to render it safe. As for how clean of chemicals and pollutants seawater is, well, all I can say is I'm not planning on baking this bread all that often.

Seawater Pain au Levain (1 680g loaf):

Levain (66%):

  • 50g flour
  • 33g water
  • 17g levain

Final Dough (70%):

  • 336g flour
  • 238g seawater
  • 100g levain
Jul 24, 2012

​B​o​s​t​o​n​,​ ​M​A​:​ ​P​i​c​c​o​ ​|​ ​S​l​i​c​e​ ​P​i​z​z​a​ ​B​l​o​g #

The crust at Picco (an acronym for Pizza and Ice Cream COmpany) is definitely the star of the show, not surprisingly, given that owner Rick Katz was a pastry chef and baker before he opened this South End stalwart. It’s tender and chewy in equal measure, and about as open and airy as any pizza I’ve had, like ciabatta dough stretched thin. And it’s got the yeasty aroma and signature tang of a dough that has been granted a long and happy life before heading to its fiery end. And they are not afraid—thankfully—to let the pies see a lot of fire in their Woodstone gas-fired oven. The menu specifies that all pies are cooked well-done, and they mean it.

Jul 19, 2012

​B​e​h​i​n​d​ ​t​h​e​ ​S​c​e​n​e​s​:​ ​P​a​i​n​ ​D​'​A​v​i​g​n​o​n​ ​B​a​k​e​r​y​ ​i​n​ ​C​a​p​e​ ​C​o​d​ ​|​ ​S​e​r​i​o​u​s​ ​E #

On June 8, Pain D'Avignon celebrated its 20th year of supplying breads to restaurants and retail outlets up and down the Cape and throughout greater New England. The bakery was founded in 1992 by four twenty-something friends from the former Yugoslavia who bet long on the notion that they could sell European-style bread to a market more accustomed to pale, soft breads closer to Wonderbread than French bread.