Drum roll, please…  

This post officially inaugurates the new kitchen in The Little Apple!  What better than a loaf of bread to start things on a nice track?  So, let me share with you a golden bread perfumed with the special saffron I received as a gift from our friend Steve. The bread looked like a blast of sunshine sitting on the black granite, and it made nice cracking noises as it cooled, the promise of a nice crumb underneath a hearty crust.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Flo Makanai)

125 g  sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
250 g water (divided)
large pinch of saffron
375 g bread flour
7 g salt
1 tsp fennel seeds

Heat 50 ml (no need to be precise) of water in a microwave until almost boiling, add the saffron and let it sit until it cools to almost room temperature, stirring every now and then.  Strain the saffron water through a fine mesh colander, and add to the rest of the water for a final volume of 250ml. Reserve.

Add the active starter to a large bowl, mix it with the water until it dissolves more or less smoothly. Add the flour and the fennel seeds, and briefly do a few kneading moves to form a shaggy mess.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough and incorporate by kneading lightly and folding the dough on itself.  You can keep the dough in the bowl, or transfer to a surface.  After 20-30 seconds of kneading/folding, cover the dough again and let it sit for 40 minutes (total rising time up to this point: 1 hour).

Repeat cycles of quick kneading/folding two more times, spacing them 40 to 50 minutes.   After the third and final kneading cycle, let the dough sit for 20 to 30 minutes, shape it as a round or oval loaf, and leave it at room temperature  30 minutes longer.  Total rising time from beginning to end: about 3 and a half hours.  Place it in the fridge overnight.

Remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before baking (see my comments). Heat the oven to 450F. If using a clay pot, place it in the cold oven as you turn it on. Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes, remove cover, and allow it to fully bake (reducing the temperature to 425F if the bread seems to be browning too fast) for 12 to 15 minutes longer.  Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  It’s been a while since I baked a loaf of bread that made me as happy as this one! I’d been refreshing my starter for weeks in a row, but placing it back in the fridge, unable to squeeze bread baking in our crazy schedule.  My cookbooks are not unpacked yet, so I decided to go with the simple but very efficient method devised by Flo Makanai years ago: her famous 1, 2, 3 recipe.   One part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour.  You can adapt and use any liquid or flour, but that’s the basic formula.   I wanted to incorporate saffron in the dough, and fennel seemed like a good match too.  Considering that it was not a tried and true recipe, and that it would be my first time using the oven in our new home, I admit I was  pushing the envelope. Interesting expression, by the way, I learned its origin not too long ago, and was a bit surprised. No Post Office material was used in its making.  Live, and learn.

Live, learn, and bake!  😉

To add a bit more emotion to the adventure, I could not find my banettons to proof the dough after shaping.  I actually have two, one round, and one oval, but they are both MIA, probably hidden inside one of the unpacked boxes.  I ended up using a copper colander, lined with a white cloth.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I pushed the envelope once more by removing the dough from the fridge only 30 minutes before placing it in the 450F oven, trying to minimize the time our kitchen would be exposed to such insanely high temperature. Still, the bread had an impressive oven spring, and the beautiful, golden open crumb I hoped for.  It would be amazing with paella or a bowl of bouillabaisse, but until the weather cools enough for those dishes, we’ll enjoy it with fresh, juicy tomatoes and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.   Simple pleasures. Golden pleasures.

A final remark: I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but my beloved husband was the genius behind it…  Sorry, ladies, he’s mine, all mine!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

TWO YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

THREE YEARS AGO: A Perfect Sunday Dinner

42 thoughts on “THERE WILL BE BREAD

  1. I’ve never seen a bread as amazingly golden as this one. And I love the texture of the crumb inside … all those large holes must make it light and fluffy. I’m not very knowledgeable about hyrdation levels and different starters so I doubt that it’s something I could pull off, but I can at least admire the results. 🙂


    • I was surprised by how well it turned out, considering I was making it the day before we were supposed to drive back to Oklahoma, and let’s say there was A LOT going on around the bread proofing! 😉


    • had good surface tension, I could tell when I was shaping it, but removing it for only 30 minutes from the fridge before baking was a bit of a stretch. I will do it again, though – no better way to bake in the Summer – unless… I use the grill (which is another project I’m abuot to tackle)


  2. Gorgeous bread, Sally. Congratulations on making such a beautiful loaf in your new kitchen! I’d say that’s a good omen. We love saffron and I’m never without it. Some don’t realize it gives flavor as well as color.


  3. Congratulations on your very first post from The Little Apple! – agreed, bread is the perfect start; very emblematic of Bewitching Kitchen. The colour of this loaf is truly remarkable Sally – is that all from the saffron? Wow, I think you may be onto something Big ;-).


    • Yeap, the color was exclusively from the saffron – I was surprised by the intensity of the color, I didn’t enhance it with photoshop or anything. Pretty amazing….


  4. Hip hip hooray!! Let there be a great rejoicing and clapping of hands for the bread has risen. I’m pleased you were so successful with your loaf despite your many obstacles.. and your kitchen’s oven clearly adores you and will respond to your every request. I would never have doubted you to make a lovely bread.. you never disappoint! I don’t even own a banetton, never mind two, and will have to go Google to see what they are. This is such a pretty loaf.. beautiful crusty crust!! Perfect for your black countertop!! xoxo Smidge
    ps Of course “pushing the envelope” is mathematical in origin.. that explains why I’ve never heard the explanation before;)


  5. Sally, you leave me speechless once more! I can only imagine the taste of this gorgeous golden loaf with fresh tomatoes and a sprinkle of Maddon salt. Next time, would you consider shipping? 😉


    • I still have 3/4 of the loaf in the freezer, as we left Kansas the following day – it would not stand shipping now, but if you want to stop by, we’ll share! 😉


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  7. This is inspiration. Long ago, when I made bread regularly, I’d make a sweet saffron bread similar to Jewish challah or Finnish pulla (which has cardomom rather than saffron).

    When I went to Zingerman’s yesterday I noticed they are now selling some of their sour dough starter. Now that their prices have gone into the stratosphere it is time I got back to baking bread again. Maybe. Have you heard of Zingerman’s?


    • I used to drool over their catalog, but the shipping is absurdly expensive – I ordered once a couple of things for a friend as a gift, but that was about it.
      I hope you go for it, get their starter and tell me how you like it


      • Yes, Zings is absurdly (insanely) expensive! LOL Oh but I’m now addicted to their version of moon pies (cosmic pies), the burnt sugar ones… melt on you tongue even just smelling them. The bad thing is their Bakehouse is only a couple of blocks from where I work. Their products are amazing. I’m sure your friend must have been head over heels crazy for the gift.

        Their bread prices used to be affordable/justifiable a few years ago, but now!!! ???? Plus, my job is a bit in jeopardy so thanks for the inspiration about getting back to making bread.

        both 🙂 and :-(,


  8. Congratulations Sally and welcome home! I just love that the first post you shared from the new Little Apple kitchen was a bread – and a gorgeous bread at that. Golden delicious. 😉


    • I feel more at ease in the kitchen. I was really worried about the oven’s performance, now the next test is to bake without the clay pot…. soon I’ll give it a try


  9. I have NEVER seen such a lovely bread…made in-home …or out for that matter…and I live in France where bread wonders never cease and yes, “there will be bread” rules supreme. This makes me want to ACTUALLY attempt home-fabrication vs. boulangèrie purchase…and I wonder if I can obtain fresh starter by asking the boulanger…or by making it myself somehow? Levain the “mère” or mother is not something easily purchased? Hoping to learn…and be able to create those wondrous light cavities and the perfection crust/interior saffron hue here…Just stunning.


    • Thank you so much, Donna! I did not notice your comment waiting for approval until now, so I am really sorry for that, and the delay in replying

      I am sure you can find sourdough starter for sale or a little “freebie” in a boulangerie – it is so much fun to work with sourdough, but you can also make your own. Go to the site and Susan has a few posts explaining exactly how to do it

      again, very sorry I did not reply sooner, hope you see this!


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