A look at what is to come.
Tony Bezsylko believes that much of the bread's unique flavor comes from the flour. He actually uses a mix of three different kinds, an all purpose flour from Heartland Mill and both an unsifted and sifted flour from Lonesome Stone Milling. Pictured above is the sifted, and you can clearly see that there is still a decent amount of bran left. That partly explains why even when uncooked the flour has a such a fascinating aroma, which faintly smells like cinnamon. Seriously, it's crazy stuff.
The Wild Yeast Starter
The next important component is the starter. Instead of a packaged instant yeast, Bezsylko uses wild yeast, which he harnessed with a simple flour and water base. These strange mixtures require attention, and must be fed more water and flour daily to keep going. This particular one also happens to be 11 years old, which sounded crazy to me, but Bezsylko admits that this isn't such a big deal: "In terms of starters, that isn't that old. Some French bakeries use a starter that is a hundred years old."
The Dough is Ready
When he thinks it is ready, he dumps the contents onto a cutting board. When is it ready? "I look for a structure, like it has a shape of its own." He does this by poking and prodding it, and by noticing how it peels away from the walls of the container.
Very Wet Dough
As you can tell, this is a very wet dough.
It's the Blob!
Ball it Up
The dough is then formed into a ball, a process that is a lot harder than it looks, because the dough can so easily stick to the cutting board.
Looks Good, Right?
And Now... More Waiting
Like the previous rest, times are very inexact, though it's usually around an hour for this step.
Shaping the Dough
The dough is folded over itself, the sides are pulled across like a straightjacket, and then it is folded over again.
Now the dough is ready for one last rest. This one is the longest, lasting overnight in the fridge. Bezsylko thinks this step is really important. The cold slows the rise, but the flavor is better. These baskets are dusted with flour, and then the dough is positioned inside.
After the Rest
You can see a big difference in the dough after the rest. Now it's ready for the oven.
Transferring the Dough to the Skillet
When it's ready, he gives the dough a final push and it falls into the skillet.
Cutting the Dough
The top is sliced to help it keep its shape.
All Covered Up
Gloves are put back on, the skillet is covered, and then placed in the oven. I'd like to take this moment to point out that each and every loaf of bread is created this way.
Back in the Oven
The loaf is removed from the pan and tossed on the top shelf of the oven, which is lined with brick tiles.
After another 25 minutes or so the bread is finally done. It is carefully removed, and then set aside. Bezsylko props the bread up to make sure it gets enough airflow. He is very against wrapping the bread up.