Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pain de Seigle Sisteron - BBD#3

BBD#3, Sourdough Rye Bread is a new challenge in baking bread. Here is a sourdough rye from Provence, Pain de Seigle Sisteron, or Sisteron Rye Bread. Makes two loaves.

Take a one pound lump of dough from a previous baking of white bread, known as a chef, and put it in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water [this chef contributes the sourness that we associate with rye bread]. Squish the dough ball between your fingers until mostly dissolved in the water. Add 1 package of yeast, 1 tablespoon salt, 4 cups stone ground rye flour; stir with a heavy wooden spoon until the dough is no longer sticky. Be patient--it will take quite a few turns of the spoon. Sprinkle one hand full of white flour onto bread board and dump rye dough onto the board; knead the white flour in and pat the dough into a round ball. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double in bulk.

When double, punch down and allow to rise again.

Shape dough into two flattened disks. Place on baking sheet or pan which has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover. Allow to double in bulk once more.

Slash a circle on the middle of each loaf.

Bake at 380F for 45 minutes.

Cook's Note: As you can see from the picture, I did not have a razor blade or baker's lame (razor blade in a tool). I used a knife tip to slash a circle in my bread top after it had risen and just as it went into the oven [this caused it to deflate and didn't give it a chance to raise again]. I think I would have been better off to slash it when first shaped for the last rising--this would have allowed the circle on top to raise somewhat independently--and I think the loaf would have been prettier and would have looked more like the original loaves.

Rye bread is better eaten the next day and the day after that … The flavor increases with age. This bread is amazing!

Recipe: The Breads of France and how to bake them in your own kitchen, Bernard Clayton, Jr.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Most of us do not have access to stills today. I suggest pouring measured boiling water over your petals and spices in a glass jug. Cover and allow to cool. Add your cooled sugar syrup and stir; and spirits and stir again. Cover and allow to steep for several weeks. Filter and bottle; store in a cool place for several more weeks before drinking. You may leave out the carmine, but as a result, your liqueur will be only slightly pink.

Rossoli: You will take musk roses, Spanish Jasmine, orange flowers [four ounces each], cinnamon [one half ounce] & [12] cloves [if clove is too strong for you, use common garden pinks flowers {œillet}, again four ounces]. When you choose well, according to what we said, you will put the whole in the Still, according to quantities' prescribed in the receipt, with [four pints] water, & will distil these matters with simple water, on a medium fire; when this receipt is distilled, you will dissolve sugar [two and three-quarters pounds] in this distillation, & when it is molten, you will pour into this distilled syrup [one bottle] brandy, or the spirit of wine [marc], according to quality or the force [proof] which you will want to give to your liquor; this being made, you will colour your liquor a crimson red [cochinille or carmine]. [Filter and bottle; store in a cool place for several weeks before drinking.]

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 286.

Vous prendrez des roses musquées, un peu de lys, du jasmine d’Espagne, de la fleur d’orange, de la cannelle & du clou de girofle; le tout avec leurs qualités décrites dans chacun de leurs chapitres. Quand vous aurez bien choisi, selon ce que nous avons dit, vous mettrez le tout dans l’alambic, selon les qualités presecrites dans la recette, avec de l’eau; & vous distillerez ces matieres avec de l’eau simple, sur un feu tant soit peu vif: quand cette recette sera distillée, vous ferez fonder du sucre dans cette distillation; & quand il sera fondu, vous verserex dans ce syrop distillé de l; eau-de-vie, ou de l’esprit de vin, selon la qualité ou la force que vous voudrez donner à votre liqueur; ceci étant fait, vous colorerez votre liqueur un rouge cramoisi.

Cook's Note: Carmine is cochinille/cochineal, red coloring matter derived from the carapaces of beatles that chew on Cacti in the American Southwest and Mexico--used since Spanish conquest times.

Although I have reproduced the recipe as it was written in the 17-18thC, carmine/cochineal has proven to be highly allergenic today.

Cheat and use food coloring or just be happy with the light pink color from the petals.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Hypocras can be a refreshing drink over ice in the summer, or when heated in winter will warm the soul.

Take two pints good wine, put it into a non-reactive pot that will not cause an off-taste. Add one and one half pounds sugar or brown sugar, a little cinnamon, ginger the size of a hazel nut, two seed strands of long pepper, twelve cloves, nutmeg flower or two blades of mace, a Cox's orange pippin peeled & cut in round slices; let the whole soak approximately half an hour, covered. Then half-crush a dozen sweet almonds in a mortar with a little sugar, & add a little orange flower water. At this point if you want to add two amber grains & one musk grain, crush your amber & musk with the almonds and sugar, & place crushed nuts, sugar and flavorings into a cotton straining bag [jelly bag or cotton lined filter], & pour hypocras back forth over the grains and crushed nuts – from one pot to another; if you want to keep it more than eight days use lemon instead of apple.

Le Cuisinier François, De LaVarenne. Chez Jaquez Canier, Paris, 1680, 11 Edition, p. 384-5

Prenez de bon vin, le mettez dans quelque vaisseau bien net, & qui ne puisse pas donner de mauvais goust. Mettez dedans du sucre ou castonnade, un peu de canella, du gingembre la grosseur d’une noisette, du poivre long deux brains, douse cloux de girofle, de la fleur de muscade, ou massis deux feüilles, une pomme de reinette pelée & coupée par roüelle; laissez le tout tremper environ demie heure, tenez le couvert, puis pilez une douzaine d’amandes douces à demise pile, & les mettez dans vostre chasse quand vostre sucre sera fondu, & que vous serez prest à passer vostre hypocras, mettez dedans un peu d’eau de fleur d’orange, & le passez sur vos amandes, & le passes trios ou quatre fois: si vous le voulez ambret & musquer, broyez vostre amber & musc dans un petit mottier avec un peu de sucre en poudre, & le mettez dans du cotton, ou filasse, & l’attachez au bas de vostre chausse, & passes l’hypocras par dessus; si vous voulez le garder plus de huit jours, n’y mettez point de pomme, n’y de citron. Il faut à deux pintes de vin environ une livre & demie de sucre, deux grains d’ambre, & un grain de musc.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lammas, Cross Quarter Day

Today, August 1st, a cross-quarter day known also as Lammas, carts wheel past my house loaded with grain for the granary. Since the grain is being harvested, now is the perfect time for bread baking. Flour ground today shouldn’t have to be sifted to remove weevils before adding to the sponge or levain to create loaves.

Bread: it is prepared in every village, that is to say wheat, or rye, or of a mixture of both, [into a] tiny well in the flour, one kneads in a little hot water, also putting in a little salt & the leaven, to cause it to rise by fermentation, a kind of homemade bread, lighter and skillfully made, artisanal without their [professional baker’s] help. It is the food of the common man, wholesome, very nutritious, & that which is appropriate for him, in all the states which one can suppose.

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 113.

Pain: c’est une preparation du bled, soit froment, ou seigle, ou d’un mélange des deux, réduit en farine, qu’on pétrit avec de l’eau un peu chaude, en y mettant un peu de sel & du levain, pour lui donner, par la fermentation que ces substances excitant, une sorte de cuisson anticipée, & plus de legérete qu’il n’en adroit sans leur secours. C’est d’aliment ordinaire de l’homme, le plus sain, le plus nourrissant, & celui qui lui convient le mieux, dans tous les états qu’on puisse supposer.
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