Last night, I had freshly baked bread with dinner. As you can imagine, we don’t have a ton of free time during the membership drives, so this was a special treat. A few weeks ago, Aubrey Bean (KEXP’s Assistant Director of Development and the architect of these drives) gave me a dough “starter” to keep in my freezer. Aubrey is our resident master baker, and she’s likely to offer you a slice of homemade wheat bread with almond butter if you walk into her office at the right time.
I’d had homemade bread a few rare times before, but I had never tasted bread so flavorful and perfectly textured as when Aubrey offered me a slice from her first foray into breadmaking, last year. Her secret, she told me, is a “starter.” It’s kind of a pre-dough — it’s not especially hard to make, but you do have to think about it two or three days in advance. This is why the pre-made starter in my freezer, ready to go, was such a luxury. She did the thinking ahead for me.
It’s exactly like your gift to KEXP… invest now, watch it grow, and enjoy! Great music, online services, community events, and the knowledge that you made it all happen. And unlike a slice of bread — which only lasts a minute or two around me — you’ll enjoy the benefits of your gift all year long.
Aubrey’s bread is such a treasure that she rewarded KEXP’s Executive Director, Tom Mara, with a homemade loaf when he came up with the winning name for our new monthly giving club, the Amplifiers. He said it reminded him of bread from Germany. Always a compliment, because no matter where you are in the world, fresh bread tastes like home. Just like — no matter where you are — KEXP makes it sound like home.
To make your gift to support KEXP, click here.
And now, here’s Aubrey’s pâte fermentée dough starter and bread recipe:
Aubrey’s Pâte Fermentée
1 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (she likes Fairhaven organic flour from Bellingham or organic flour from the Farmers’ Market)
1 1/8 cups unbleached bread flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast (or double the amount of the non-instant kind)
¾ cup (plus maybe a bit more) warm water
1. Stir together dry ingredients. Add water.
2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter; knead for 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Lightly oil a bowl, coat the dough with oil, cover, and let rise for about an hour.
4. Knead lightly, then store in the refrigerator overnight, or up to three days.
5. You can also freeze the starter for up to three months, in case you want to give it to a friend to store for later.
To make the bread, mix the pâte fermentée with the same ingredients as above, but with a little bit (like ¼ cup) more flour. Aubrey likes to substitute some whole wheat flour for all-purpose, but no more than 60%, or else it gets too dense.
1. Take the chill off the pâte fermentée, cut into 10 pieces, and mix with the dry ingredients. Add water. Knead for 10 minutes.
2. Let rise for 2-3 hours
3. Without punching down the dough, gently form into 3 loaves. Let rise (aka “proof”) for an hour or so.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. It works best if you heat up the oven really hot, flick some water in there to steam up the whole oven, and then bake.