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Pain Bouillie and the Dark Days Before People Knew Seaweed was Edible

March 14, 2010 · 23 comments

in Bread,Vegetarian

Rye bread

Like most twelve year olds, I wanted to fit in. It all changed (and how!) once I was thirteen, but twelve? I wanted the Stussy t-shirt, the perm, and the schoolbag every other girl at my conservative Catholic school had.

It’s hard to fit in at lunch time when everyone has white bread sandwiches and your dad with whom you stay half the week has made you onigiri as big as your head though. It seems laughably naive now in these days of sushi sophistication but whatISthatblackstuffohmygod SEAweed? Ewww.

I would have jumped with alacrity at a sandwich made of this: pain bouillie.

It’s brown without being overly so. It has a subtle, nutty sweetness. It’s homely in the nicest possible way. Slathered with butter or not, warm from the oven, toasted or plain sliced, once you have a bite – you’re hooked.

Now – and probably even then – I know my lunch was far more delicious than theirs – rice doesn’t go soggy when filled the way day-old sandwich bread does but I think this sturdy loaf would stand up to even a day in a school bag without much ill-effect.

Even if you’re not a baker of bread, try this on a rainy day. The sense of achievement will be immense, and for such little outlay. You do have to hang around for 4 hours or so but the actual hands-on time is only about half an hour. Plus everyone in the house will think you’re awesome. True story – it happened to me.

Rye bread and butter

What did you do to fit in at school?

Pain Bouillie, adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

Bread recipes often say “knead until elastic” which with non-white flour hardly ever happens and also “leave to double in size.” When you look at it, it’s hard to tell if it has really doubled because measuring volume by eye is difficult unless you’re good at doing 3-D imaging in your head. Don’t worry too much, if you leave it in a place which has a constant temperature of about 21 degrees celsius and no breeze, and it shows signs of having risen, the yeast has probably done its job.

The night before, mix:

225 grams (2 cups) rye flour

450 ml (1 3/4 cups) boiling water

5 ml (1 teaspoon) honey

in a medium bowl, cover with cling-film and leave for 12 hours in a warm place.

For the dough

7 grams fresh yeast dissolved in 30 ml (2 tablespoons) warm water (or you can use rapid rise in which case you don’t need to dissolve it)

1 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds

10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt

350 grams (3 cups) unbleached white bread flour

olive oil

Grease a 10 x 30 x 7 cm loaf tin with olive oil.

Stir the yeast mixture or rapid rise yeast, salt and caraway seeds into the rye porridge.

Add the bread flour bit by bit until a firm dough forms.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently for 6-8 minutes until smooth. (For me, it never became particularly elastic as dough should but it turned out well nevertheless).

Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling-film and put in a warm place for an hour and a half or until it has nearly doubled in size.

Turn out onto the floured surface again and punch down.

Cut the dough into 2 pieces and roll them both into rectangles roughly the size of the bottom of your loaf tin.

Fold the bottom third up over the middle third and the top third down over the other two so that you have a small rectangle, three widths thick and pinch the edges together a bit.

Turn over and put the 2 little loaves into the loaf tin.

Cover loosely with oiled cling-film and leave to rise for another hour or until the top of the dough nearly reaches the top of the tin.

Quarter of an hour before you are ready to put them in, preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (425 fahrenheit).

Brush the top of the loaves with olive oil and slash the middle 6 cm of each lengthwise with a 1 cm cut.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 degrees celsius (375 fahrenheit) and bake another 25 minutes or until the bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when knocked.

Cool on a wire rack.

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sallyismycat March 14, 2010 at 10:05 am

Anyone who repeats the adage ‘Man does not live by bread alone…’, hasn’t tried Crazy Sasa’s old-fashioned Pain Bouillie!

castro March 14, 2010 at 10:21 am

…I had to have those Levis 501 jeans to fit in at school. Any other trousers simply wouldn’t do it if you wanted to be with the oh so cooool guys…eighties brand madness ;-)

sasa March 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Ooh, 501s…I had some too.

Vanessa March 14, 2010 at 10:42 am

Wow, what an unusual but cool recipe. I just hate soggy sandwiches so this is for me and baking bread is so relaxing. The weather is is just awful at teh moment so staying in for an afternoon doesn’t sound like much of a hardship either. At school, I was always the outsider with hair that was too dark, skin that was too pale, crooked teeth and no fashion sense. I gave up trying to fit in when I was about 15 and started reading books my schoolmates had ever heard of and couldn’t understand. Things improved considerably when I got to university!

sasa March 14, 2010 at 5:05 pm

The weather in Berlin sucks too huh? Ugh, made roast chicken just to make it better today. It really is time for Spring.

Culinary Philosopher March 14, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Absolutely loved the story. I ate way too many of those soggy sandwiches and would have loved some onigiri instead. I actually knew what it was because I have a Japanese aunt and she would often share her foods with us when I was a kid.
The bread looks great. It’s a wonderful recipe.

sasa March 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Glad you enjoyed it – writing is really why I have a blog so it’s always encouraging to hear good feedback, thank you.
Maybe you’ll try making onigiri yourself one of these days?

smithbites March 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

LOVE the story and LOVE your blog – so happy to find you! For me, it was all about white go-go boots!! And yes, I did date myself there!

sasa March 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

White go-go boots! Woah, that’s a hard one to beat!

Angie March 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

That’s a great looking bread!

Marietta March 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

What did you do to fit in…
Being Greek-Japanese… I just kicked everybody’s asses and boy did I fit in!

I wish I was joking but I am not…

sasa March 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Well, they probably deserved it ;P

MaryMoh March 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I just make sure that I was very good in at least one subject in order to fit in and I did. Your bread looks perfect. Nothing is better than homemade bread.

sasa March 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Thanks Mary, and thanks for visiting :)

chiquita March 17, 2010 at 2:28 am

The bread I bake for MiniB’s daily sandwiches is a “boule” recipe that I bake in a loaf pan (recipe is from that book I got) – is that different from bouille? Just finished baking one again today, while doing naan for dinner from same dough on the stovetop. Multitasker, me.

As for fitting in – pointy pointy low-heeled stilettos, and sewing my skirt tighter. They were pretty strict with the uniform so that was about it.

sasa March 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

I don’t think it is a boule. No idea what bouillie means but that is the right spelling too…Any French people?
Cam’ray is big on naan, check out his blog, you can click through from some of his comments.

chiquita March 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Twas the first thing I pondered this morning, bleary-eyed, before I even got out of bed: boule, bouillie, and then there’s bouillon, and bouillabaisse (sp?)…are they all related!?

Cam’ray has a blog now? Musto chekku. :)

chiquita March 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

…Just found a couple of his comments, but no link. Email it to me please?

A_foxie_smile March 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Bouillie is a mash, it probably refers to the rye flour and honey mix?

sasa March 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Great, thanks! Now I can sound like an expert ;P

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella April 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm

In Japan when I was little, I was offered a stunning sushi platter only to request a hamburger from the shop next door. Oh how foolish I was! Lol

Lucia Poe May 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm

If only I had a quarter for every time I came here! Superb post!

charleschr October 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Yay bread! You go girl, as the kids these days say.

Funny enough, sports was the thing I tried to fit in. I played half a season of baseball (which anyone who reads my Twitter knows I genuinely do love very much) before a career ending elbow injury stopped that. I also played basketball for awhile but I broke my left ankle multiple times and had to give that up too. Basically, I was a fragile nerd trying to play jock games with mixed success and plenty of pain :).

Rye bread though – mmmmmm. I make this too, but I top it with large sea salt crystals before baking. Really makes the crust super tasty. I also throw a cast iron skillet into the oven while it preheats and dump a cup of water into it when I put the bread in to make some steam, which I think also helps the crust.

I love rye toast with jam and butter, or smoked turkey with provolone and caramelized onions on rye grilled in a skillet. So so tasty.

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