The secret to good bread is patience. It's patience, and an unrelenting firmness of hand and character. A dough will never rise to its fullest potential if it is taken out too early, but a dough neglected falls apart in the hands, while forming a dried upper surface that is impossible to integrate into the rest.

Yves is more of a pet than an ingredient. Yves is a living organism, one that needs careful feeding and whispers of encouragement. A long time ago, a piece of dough was nicked from a San Francisco sourdough bakery and raised in New England, divided into countless splinter colonies and distributed over the years. We've been raising Yves for seven months, after dozens of batches of nonviable dough that came before we reached an understanding.

The dough will never flatten into the correct shape for proper bread without a patient approach and a firm hand. It springs back quickly if unattended, but rolls onto itself and wrinkles if rushed. There's a rhythm to the stretching and shaping actions that I've learned for this flour, this water this altitude, this yeast colony. I know when the little jar needs to be pulled from the fridge to awaken Yves so that the last piece of old bread is consumed as the first batch of fresh dough enters the oven.

But for a starting point, it is as follows:

Knead until firm; cover and rise for twelve hours. Knead gently after rising, split into twelve pieces. Roll as flat as possible, without breaking through. Oven-bake on broil for a few minutes; remove when the upper crust starts to brown. Let cool; store wrapped in a light fabric and in a quiet place, or devour on the spot.

23 February 2014 18:59

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