Sunday 10 November 2013

Day 37: Laid Back Boule

The wind at last dropped us. This after sailing continuously for over sixteen days, running the motors only to charge the batteries.

I had the 03h00 to 06h00 watch this morning, which saw the last of the wind disappearing. We are now about 450 miles from Barbados, three days' worth of sailing. At this time of year we are almost into hurricane season still. The weather certainly looks ominous enough. Real Halloween stuff, in tune with the date.

But not to worry, we have weather info at the end of a telephone call. I still like to observe the cloud and wind patterns, though. It is like being really at sea and understanding your environment. A telephone call does not impart understanding, it is a short cut. To me, far better to make observations and an associated prediction, then confirm your predictions via the telephone. One lives closer to your environment in this fashion.

The sky was quite clear this morning, hardly a cloud in the sky. This is tropical holiday weather. Clear, sunny skies in the morning, with some thunderclouds building in the afternoon, making for very romantic sunsets. Pity we are not on holiday with our loved ones. But is still a blessing to live through these experiences.

I had clear sights of the sun and horizon, so I decided to forego the dead reckoning adjustment from the previous set of dead reckoning data. Proper sun shots, taken with care provide better data than a rushed sun shot through a hazy cloud. Which is what I managed to do after writing the blog post yesterday.

This paid off in that I got a proper fix with 12 nm difference to the GPS. In fact, my dead reckoning position and the final fix basically bracketed the GPS fix. QED.

Having made dinner last night, today is my day off. I had the two twilight watches today, sunrise and sunset. It carries a message to relax and take it easy.

But it was also baking day again. I decided to make a real rustic loaf in boule shape. Heavy with coarse brown bread flour, this serves as a proper meal. I normally have mine with butter only. Real butter. There is no substitute for the taste of real butter.

This loaf has just the basic ingredients of water, flour, salt, fat and yeast. Nothing else. The caraway seeds on top counts for garnish only. I decided to go the full hog with this loaf, making the dough on the dry side and having three sets of proofing. These are the first rise, then the second rise after kneading it down, followed by the final proofing after shaping.

This loaf was also allowed more time for final proofing than the previous ones I made on this voyage. Just for the learning experience. The loaf responded well and rose to double the original size. The oven in this case was set to 230ºC /450ºF for the first fifteen minutes, then turned down to 190ºC /375ºF for another forty minutes. I found on the previous occasions that similar loaves did not caramelise enough on top and the crumb seemed a bit doughy to my taste, so I am upping the baking regime this time. Perhaps this one may over-bake a bit, which is manageable, I reasoned. Just check for status towards the end, I argued.


2 ½ cups unbleached stone ground white bread flour

2 ½ cups unbleached stone ground brown bread flour

10 g ( 1 sachet) instant yeast

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 dessert spoon vegetable fat

2 cups water

2 teaspoons caraway seeds for garnish

Some flour for dusting the kneading board and the baking sheet

1 dessert spoon cooking oil for patting


Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add one cup of the water. Mix through, then add the rest of the water until the dough has a knead-able consistency on the dry side. Allow this dough to rest for five minutes, then add the vegetable fat. Mix through, then turn out on a well-floured kneading board. Knead until the dough is quite elastic and satiny, then form into a flat ball. The dough should keep this shape quite easily. Pat the dough with oil against drying out and set to rise for at least an hour, but mostly until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out on a floured kneading board and allow to rest for five minutes. Knead it back to the original volume, form into a ball and set to rise until doubled in volume again. Turn this dough out on the kneading board, allow to rest, then shape into the final shape without degassing the ball.

I chose a boule shape, for the rustic character of the intended loaf. This one is supposed to be a real artisan loaf, so I went with the traditional shape too.

Spread the caraway seeds on top, making sure that they stick. I had to press them down a bit. Allow this final shaped loaf to proof for another thirty minutes, then turn on the oven. I allowed about eight minutes for the oven to heat up. Make some cuts on top to allow for oven spring. I went for the traditional square pattern on the round boule, but any cuts will do. Just make sure that they are just through the crust, not too deep. The loaf may deflate.

Pop this loaf into the oven at 230ºC /450ºF. Allow to bake for fifteen minutes, then turn the oven down to 190ºC /375ºF. For another forty five minutes. Turn the loaf around after twenty minutes to allow for even baking on all sides.

Check for baking status: the loaf should be crisp on the outside with a hollow sound when tapped. After the loaf is fully baked, remove it from the oven and turn out on a cooling rack. Cool for at least forty minutes, this one is quite thick and will take longer to cool.

Then slice and enjoy. Remember, again: Use real butter!


PS – I had to wait until my night watch-keeping slot before having a taste of this one. It came out beautifully spongy and dense without being heavy. The crust was nice and chewy. And the taste was quite sweet, in spite of not having any sugar in the mix. A result of allowing sufficient proofing time and long enough rest after baking?

You tell me.


This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!


Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2013-10-31

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