While we were in Knysna earlier this year, for our annual vacation, we paid a visit to Île de Païn on Thesen Island. Master pastry chef and chocolatier, Markus Färbinger (an Austrian) and talented chef Liezie Mulder (a South African) opened Île de Païn in December 2012 and it was the first artisan, wood fired oven bakery in South Africa. Their breads, from the baguettes and ciabattas, to their signature “companion’s” are imbued with boldness and character, as well as ethereal quality.
While having amazing hot chocolate and choosing from a variety of decadent chocolate pastries, we learned they have a bread making DVD.
Obviously we bought the DVD and I embarked on the journey to learn how to make Artisan bread dough and since then my bread machine is not making bread anymore.
I absolutely love the feeling of working bread dough through my fingers.
Some of you may have read my posting, I don’t want to be like chocolate. Since I’ve written that posting, we discovered I have very warm hands, yet another reason why I just don’t have the gifting to work with chocolate, unless the chocolate needs a little heat. It’s quite the opposite when working with bread dough - it is to the benefit of the dough when you have warm hands.
The one basic bread dough recipe, which I make from 50% refined spelt flour and 50% stoneground spelt flour makes about 1.8kg of dough, which can be moulded and shaped into a whole range of bread variations. We’ve tried Pan Bread,
and Artisan loaves or ‘hearth’ loaves, which is my favourite and now our basic bread for every day.
The dough making process itself takes 3 to 3½ hours and another 1½ hours for final rising and baking. Remember during much of this time, I’m not necessarily physically engaging with the dough. I have plenty of time in between to attend to all the other things which surround me.
They call this method the artisan way of baking bread, and for a reason. It is amazing to experience the fermentation of the dough in between resting periods. While watching the DVD, Markus Färbinger, who was born into a family with a tradition of wood-fired heart baking going back four generations, in Taxenbach, you can “hear” and see the dough developed into the different stages.
When I started to do it myself, I could hardly control the excitement of feeling, smelling and experiencing the dough!
We all know the picture of God as the potter and we the clay. Since I’ve started baking bread the artisan way, I like to think of God as the Baker and me as bread dough in His Hands, working and shaping me into life-giving bread for the hungry people He sends across my way.
The first step in making the dough is to accurately weigh the flour, water, fresh yeast and salt.
After sifting the flour
and making a well in the flour, you gradually pour in the water, then the yeast and then the salted water into the well, and using one hand only, blend the water and flour slowly to form a paste.
I absolutely love this. It brings back childhood memories of playing ‘kitchen-kitchen’ when I was still a little girl in my parents’ back yard in the sand, baking mud cakes. After all the flour is completely blended into the mixture and the dough is shaped into a loose ball, it’s placed into a large bowl brushed with olive oil.
Just before covering the dough with a cloth, the temperature is measured. It should be between 23 and 24 degrees C.
As I worked the dough, at least 3 batches, twice a week, to provide bread for my family of ten, I got a spiritual picture of encouragement from the Lord.
God will never expose me to Temperatures of refining beyond what I’m able to bear.
Every time I measure the temperature of my dough, I’m reminded that He will never expose me to temperatures of which I’m not capable of handling.
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,"
1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
When the dough temperature is too high, let the dough rest in a cool area or place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. If dough is too cold, allow to rest in a warm place.
Higher temperatures leads to dough rising faster, lower temperatures slows it down.
I can trust the Lord to know exactly what temperature is needed to let my faith develop for His glory.
With much love