I had different plans for this post. It was going to be Kung Pao Chicken. Then it hit me. This is the last week before Valentine’s Day, so Kung Pao can wait. I shall dance to the romance. I have a special bread for you, decorated with a trio of hearts. Share it with someone who lives in your heart. If you are all alone in these crazy times, bake it for you. You deserve it.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

450g bread flour
50g spelt flour
370g water
75g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
10g salt

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, and salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Place three strings over the dough nicely spaced, and touch the strings to glue them lightly to the bottom of the bread. Place a parchment paper on top, a flat baking sheet, and invert the dough, flipping it out of the banneton. Flour the surface of the dough, and tie the strings on top as shown in the composite picture. Score as desired, forming a heart pattern.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. I cut the strings quickly after 30 minutes when I open the pan, and moved them gently out of the bread. Don’t worry if some parts of the string stay glued to the bread, you can remove later. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was chatting with my friend Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious and she suggested that I make a Valentine-inspired sourdough. I jumped on the idea right away. However, I cannot take credit for the look of this bread, I had seen the scoring months ago on youtube and simply followed more or less her method with a few minor differences because I found myself with less space for additional details around the hearts. I wanted to use beets and make a vibrant red concoction, but there was no way I would go to the store under the dreadful weather conditions of this past weekend. If you don’t know what Polar Vortex is, count yourself lucky. Enough said.

I’ve been a bit puzzled by the way my designs sometimes tend to disappear during baking, and just the other day saw a tip about it. Apparently if you bake it in a Dutch oven (as I do), cracking the lid open allows some of the moisture to escape and the flour rubbed on the surface of the dough is not incorporated into it, so the design will be more evident and crisp. Obviously I forgot all about it when I baked this loaf. I will try it next time for sure.

ONE YEAR AGO: Orange Streusel Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Pink Praline Brioche

THREE YEARS AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

FOUR YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

SIX YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

NINE YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

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ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain