Epi Bread and Kalamazoo

Ran another 26.2 again today in Kalamazoo—which sounds like the first line of a Dr. Seuss book, but it’s true. KP and I are 25 marathons into our 50 states! Half way there! Turns out that Kalamazoo is far more hilly, and hot-climated than we had anticipated. A rough go of it, but as always, the reward the finish line brings is a high like no other. We celebrated with jambalaya and Oberon brews at Bell’s afterwards.

Kzoo marathon

epi bread

Epi Bread

Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day Book (thank you for the gift Kim Wiseman!!)

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup sourdough starter

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

4 cups lukewarm water

I do it differently than the technique recommended in the book for two reasons: 1) I use sourdough starter, never yeast, and NEVER vital wheat gluten (that is sooo cheating) and 2) Tartine Bread book changed my life, and in my mind, they are the originators of the super-hydrated bread dough technique that does not require kneading—so I stick to their method with little deviation.

Start with mixing the water to and the starter to form a very wet dough.  Add the flours, do not add salt yet. Mix this all up and wait forty minutes before adding the salt in a little bit of water. This gives the dough some time for the gluten molecules to align (as they must)—and because salt can retard sourdough growth, giving 40 minutes for there to be a jump start is a good idea. At this point, you can let the dough rise for hours and hours. Then you can put the dough in the fridge and pull off pieces from it to use for baking fresh bread all week.

Cover loosely (leave lid open a crack) and allow to rise for two hours at room temperature (if you decreased the yeast, you’ll need more time).  NEVER PUNCH DOWN or intentionally deflate.  The dough will rise and then begin to collapse.  Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days, tearing off one-pound loaves as you need them.

On baking day, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough (about a pound), using a serrated knife or a kitchen shears:

Now, quickly shape the loaf into a baguette. DON’T KNEAD or otherwise knock all the gas out of the loaf:

epi dough epi dough seal epi dough letter

Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or parchment for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough.  This is longer than our 1st book because whole grains take a longer rest than white doughs.  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise; our loaves depend more on “oven spring.”

Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on a middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won’t interfere with rising bread.

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water.

Slash the loaf with 1/4-inch deep parallel cuts on each side, alternating space to look like a leaf frond.  Use a serrated bread knife held perpendicularly to the loaf, or scissors.

epi cuts epi cut

Slide onto the hot stone and carefully pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray. After a 30-minute bake, cool on a cooling rack, and serve however you’d like.

epi wheat

Gorgeous stained glass at Bell’s Brewery and Cafe:

Kzoo cool stained glass

Haiku #119 (April 29)

Humidity gives

you the chance to breathe again

that which you exhale.

Haiku #120 (April 30)

In the front row, she

photographed her large lobster

while I sang At Last.

Haiku #121 (May 1)

Woke up in my car

to the smell of lawn clippings

and rancid cat food.

Haiku #122 (May 2)

Holy friggin’ Hell

said the Irishman upon

waking late to race.

Haiku #123 (May 3)

I sharted on mile

twenty, and learned: Attitude

can be its own hill.

2 thoughts on “Epi Bread and Kalamazoo

  1. Yay Rachel and KP, so proud of you for the 26.2 in Kalamazoo! Which state is up next? Also Rach, I am curious about circumstances under which you experienced the moment described in Haiku #121. What on earth?! 🙂

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