Le Pain Tordu

Well it’s the Bread Baking Babes again getting me to try a new bread. I attempted their chickpea flour sourdough bread last month to limited success until I added yeast. During discussion on Facebook I was encouraged to try full on sourdough bread again. Results were not great. But, I had a starter going. And I it so happened that late this week I was feeding it daily. So when this month’s bread was posted, I read about few things that made it attractive. First, you could ignore the long fridge rise. Second, it was an easy dough to work with. Third, that it was sourdough, but with a bit of yeast too which helps guarantee a better outcome. For me at least.

Pain Tordu

So I plunged ahead. Tordu means twisted. These loaves are formed and twisted before baking. There was talk of couches too, which means I could use my cheat method of lining my batard pan with parchment. See picture to the right. This works well with soft/wet doughs.

I found that yes, the dough was easy to work with and fairly quick to make for something in the sourdough realm. I couldn’t figure out the twist so I braided the first one. Then I remembered there was a video that Kelly posted. So, the second on, on the right, was twisted.

I’ve taken multiple recipes and techniques and mixed them together. Using a much hotter bake from Kelly than the recipe originally said.

Braided on the left. Twisted on the right. Both pretty, but the braided looks better and frankly was easier.
It has a nice crumb and flavor. However, the crust is a bit chewy. I probably would bake it even darker next time. I’m sure it will crisp up when I warm it up for dinner.














Pain Tordu
500 grams strong white bread flour
300 milliliters water (approximately)
3 grams instant yeast
10 grams salt
125 grams sourdough starter

Mix the flour, water and yeast for 5 minutes on low speed; this helps to obtain the right texture ‘when you need more flour you add a little. This is called contre-frasage, or ‘counter-mixing’.

Knead for 15 minutes: Add the levain and once incorporated knead for another 10 minutes at medium speed, adding the salt 5 minutes before the end. The dough should be at 73°F.

Leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour: The dough is always left to rise in the mixing bowl. The time varies according to the temperature in the room.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into balls. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, you shape it. You take a round ball and fold it over to make it a long shape; you flour it, and with a wooden rolling pin you separate it into tow long rolls. You turn it over, flour it again, and press down with the rolling pin to separate the two rolls well. Then you turn the dough on the diagonal, passing one roll over the other and you make the corkscrew shape by letting the twist by itself. There are tordus with one turn and tordus with two turns. The rolling pin is quite slender, like a broom handle, and 70 cm long. The tordu is 80 cm long.

The two rolls coiled round each other are now put into a parchment lined batard pan or a couche if you’re going that route. Let them rise until properly proofed, about 45 minutes for me. You can go the fridge method and proof there for a more flavorful method, but I’m not sure there’s consensus for how long. The original recipe says 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F, preparing it for steaming. I put an old ¼ sheet pan in the bottom of the oven and pretty much leave it there always. It will get warped and basically unusable for anything else. A sacrifice for bread.  I’ll put a cup or two of ice in it as I put the bread in. It will make steam for the first minutes of the bake giving a crustier crust.

Put the batard pan in the oven & turn the heat down to 450ºF.  Be sure to either create steam via my method or using a spray bottle to spray the sides of the oven ever couple of minutes. Bake for 10 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes without steam.  The crust should be a deep golden brown.



Koji – Peaso

It started with stopping by a shop in Oakland called Preserved. A great shop for lots of DIY home cooking projects. Fermenting, canning, and all kinds of fun methods can be found in the books of the shop and the ingredients and tools to are there too. I had heard about this magical thing called Koji. It’s a major player in Japanese cuisine and having a new day in the sun due to some creative chefs using it in new ways. Koji-tane is the base form and spores of this fungus. The fungus is grown on rice, barley or a number of different grains. The fungus, Apergillus oryzae, is fairly easy to grow on grains in the right environmental conditions. A temperature and humidity controlled fermentation chamber is best.

I thought a good entry into Koji was to buy the rice or barley and go from there. I made Shio-Koji which can be used as a marinade to up the umami of things. If you’ve had Japanese Karaage, fried chicken, you may have tasted this special umami and not known what it was. After cooking my first shio-koji marinaded chicken I immediately recognized the flavor. I was hooked.

Just then I heard David Zilber on Fresh Air with Terri Gross. He was all about the Koji. He spoke gloriously about the spore that is essential in Japanese food. It’s used to make Miso, Sake, soy sauce and amazake. Fortunately he’d just written a whole book about fermenting, including extensively about Koji.

I ordered the book and worked with purchased Koji-Rice and Koji-Barley. I made Koji oil, Koji lacto fermented water both of which I used in Thomas Keller’s quiche recipe. The onions are slowly wilted and never browned with thyme. The koji made these the best sautéed onions I’ve every tasted. They were just so delicious. I made Koji flour to bread fish with. 

Buying already inoculated Koji-rice and barley got expensive so I finally set out to make a fermentation chamber. I had a lot of the supplies needed anyway from my days of meat curing. I already had a temperature controller that I bought way back when we lived in Hawaii to control my crock pot for my first Sous-Vide cooking. This was before there were affordable alternatives. I later used it to control my meat hanging fridge. I had a seedling heat mat. I just needed to order a small humidifier and humidity controller, a stainless steel perforated hotel pan and the Koji-Tase spores. Zilber suggests setting up in styrofoam cooler but I couldn’t find one of the right size so I first used a plastic storage bin. It didn’t work out great, so I switched to my oven. Once I learned that I needed to take out the light bulb or it would easily get too hot, it worked out fine. However, it means that my oven isn’t usable for 3-4 days. That’s OK, I have a toaster oven and a large microwave/convection to tide me over. 

At this point I’ve made two batches of rice Koji and one of barley.

Rice Koji getting there!

While my process is never complete at 48 hours like Zilber says it will be, I carry on and eventually get a nice growth of mold. What should happen is everything grows together into a mat of sorts. I sort of got that my second round of rice koji, but I’ve found that even with my less than optimal growth the koji is fine.

The whole reason I wanted to pursue the barley one was to make what Zilber calls Peaso. It’s miso made with yellow split peas instead of soy beans. I did not get the yield in weight from my barley koji so I had to supplement with rice koji to get enough to make the peaso. It ferments for 3-4 months and I’m so excited every time I check it. After just two weeks an amazing flavor had developed. As Zilber says it’s magical. It just smells so delicious when I open it up. 

So, if you’re adventurous I would highly recommend getting some Koji rice and Zilber’s book and play. When you’ve played a little you can make your own by buying the spores and inoculating your own rice and barley. Other grains work too. I think some day I’ll try farro. That nutty grain should be great.