Potato Pavé with Goat Cheese and Thyme (BBB March 2020)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Potato Pavé; substituting egg with flax; how to get a crispy crust; coping during a pandemic?! hand washing techniques; information about Bread Baking Babes;

“…’ware the Ides of March”
Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands!

With the constant public notices for us to keep social distance, as well as schools, libraries, art galleries, concert halls shut down until at least the early part of April, it’s hard not to be obsessed with thinking about how to avoid getting COVID-19.

Therefore, the BBBabes’ habit of baking a different bread each month is an especially welcome distraction. It’s something to do when staying home to keep social distance AND there will be something good to eat as a result!

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Potato, Thyme and Goat Cheese Pavé

BBB March 2020

Pain[s] Pavé[s] are smallish French rustic white wheat breads that are usually flattish, slightly rounded on top, and not very tall, so that they look vaguely like a cobblestone. […] It is often served with olive oil as a dip.
Cook’s Info, French Breads | Pain Pavé
Q: Connaissez-vous les ingrédients qui composent un “pain pavé”? Quelle est la spécificité de ce pain par rapport aux autres? [Do you know what ingredients are included in a “pain pavé”?]
R: [J]e dirais que c’est d’abord la forme qui donne le nom de pavé. Ensuite, on imagine plutôt une pâte un peu plus rustique que pour de la baguette mais je pense qu’on fait ce qu’on veut!
[I would say it is primarily the shape that gives it the name pavé (paving stone). Also, one imagines a dough a little more rustic that the dough for a baguette, but I think one can do whatever one wants!]
-marmiton, Pain pavé

While it seems that most pain pavé recipes are either sourdough or call for creating an overnight starter such as a poolish, this month’s BBBabe recipe is a straight one day dough. Considering that, comme d’habitude, I was just barely on time by starting on the 15th, this is a good thing.

Here’s how things went with making Pavé:

BBB Pave diary:

6 February 2020, 16:16 This looks great! I really like the scoring.

7 March 2020, 18:08 Already?! Haven’t we abolished this foolishness yet?
The time has come to complain for an entire weekend straight. “Spring forward” for Daylight Saving Time is upon us. This Sunday, March 8, at 2 am, clocks will be set forward one hour to mark the beginning of Daylight Saving, stealing away one precious hour of sleep
– Daily Hive, Time Change 2020 in Canada

I don’t know why but the permission to complain all weekend somehow makes me feel a little better. A little….

13 March 2020, 08:55 EDT The sky is falling! The sky is falling! My concert on Saturday has been postponed indefinitely:
Thank you all for your patience, amid watching the concert/arts world implode around us!.
Sadly… the producer [of Saturday’s concert] has looked at the global climate as a result of COVID 19 and wisely decided to POSTPONE the Toronto Concert. They are currently searching for an alternate date.
– J, orchestra contractor

No doubt several more will follow. :lalala:

How strange for things on a Friday the 13th to actually BE foreboding!

14 March 2020, 17:55 EDT I’ve been thinking about the egg and cheese in this bread. And how much I don’t really want to add them. So, I’m not going to. Because I’m a bad BBBabe. :stomp:

From various sources, here are the possibilities for egg substitute:

1 egg = 10 grams (1 Tbsp) ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water


1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes (without butter or salt)
1/4 cup boiled potato without skin = 39 grams

15 March 2020, 13:00 EDT I admit that I’m a little afraid to look at the news. But, of course, I can’t stop myself. So, to stop myself from panicking, I decided to plunge my head back into the sand and make this month’s BBBabe bread. After all, this month’s BBB report is to appear tomorrow.

I just finished mixing the dough. I knew I was being wayward, deciding not to add cheese or egg at all. I felt virtually no remorse. :-)

We do have thyme from our garden growing (okay, maybe it’s not actually growing right now, but it’s still alive) as it overwinters in a pot under lights in the basement. I’ll drizzle some goat’s cheese with olive oil and sprinkle some of those leaves and serve that with the bread. That way, I won’t feel quite so wayward. :-)

13:24 EDT: I thought I’d take a look on the internet to see what others did to make pavé. This is interesting:
Pavé is my signature bread and it represents who I am as a baker and as a person. Thanks to its prolonged leavening, perfect pavé has time to develop deep and complex flavors. It is intricate but still very simple in taste, with a nice chewy resistance that melts in your mouth. Behind its thick crust you will find a creamy interior. Pavé was, in earlier times, pretty tall and square in shape, hence the name (pavé = pavement).
– Sébastien Boudet, The French Baker: Authentic Recipes for Traditional Breads, Desserts, and Dinners, page 63 (courtesy of google books preview)

Oh oh… Prolonged leavening? Yikes. Obviously, that’s not going to happen with this bread! Now I’m glad that I decided to add just a tiny bit of our whole wheat starter from the fridge. Perhaps that will mimic “prolonged leavening”. A little bit??

17:23 EDT: Shaping is really easy for this!! I love making a rectangle. But, oh dear, I can see quite a few lumps of potato. I clearly didn’t manage to mash it very finely. Oops.

17:59 EDT: Wow, there’s nothing like commercial yeast for making things rise fast, is there? I just turned the oven on and hope that it will be preheated in time before the loaf over-rises!

18:20 EDT: Rather than doing a milk-wash (there’s no way I’m going to ever do an egg wash), I chose the water spray and flour scattering. I really like the idea of getting a “crustier loaf”

I sure hope my scoring worked! I used one of T’s lethal weapons (the “medium” sized knife with a razor sharp sharp sharp blade) to create the criss-cross pattern. I’m a little sorry that I didn’t think to put the cuts on the diagonal. But that’s what happens when one isn’t planning ahead properly.

We’re still a little uncertain of the actual oven temperature in our new stove. I preheated to 450F on the dial, and after putting the bread in the oven, turned it down to 425F. Fingers crossed that it’s hot enough.

18:52 EDT: 30 minutes eh? It’s not even close to being done! I just turned the bread around and turned the oven up to 450F on the dial.

19:14 EDT: Not done yet!!! It’s only just beginning to get lightly golden. So I took it off the tray and put it directly on the stone. Fingers crossed that it will be actually done soon. (Curse this new oven!!)

19:23 EDT: Finally!!

Flat, isn’t it? At least it’s light weight….

BBB March 2020

We tasted the bread this morning – serving it with goat’s cheese sprinkled with the tiniest thyme leaves (this is what happens when the poor little potted plant overwinters in the basement) and drizzled with some of the fancy olive oil given to us for Christmas. We also had butter. Of course we did. :whee: :whee:

BBB March 2020

The bread was beautifully crusty. But inside, we found it was a tiny bit cakey. And very delicately flavoured. Alas, the salt level was low.


Clearly, I should have accommodated for omitting the cheese. I just did a little calculation and see that the amount of salt I added was just 1.3% baker’s percentage. I’ll make a note in the recipe to up the salt level for next time.

Also, for next time, I’ll either make an overnight starter using a tiny bit of commercial yeast OR just raise the bread with our Jane Mason starter. Whichever kind of leavener used, this will definitely become a two day process. The flavour will be much more defined, I’m sure.

But. We REALLY love the crispy crust! We’ll definitely be using that technique again.

All in all: Score! Thank you for a very fun choice, Kelly!

Here is the March 2020 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Potato Pavé with Goat Cheese and Thyme
based on the recipe for Potato, thyme and goat’s cheese pavé in “World Breads: from Pain de Campagne to Paratha” by Paul Gayler

One of my personal favorites: I love potatoes and goat’s cheese so it seemed obvious to create a loaf with these in mind. […] Pavé is French for cobblestone, which reflects the shape of the loaf. […] Use any leftover bread, made into breadcrubms to make a great stuffing for roast chicken or roast lamb.
– Paul Gayler, World Breads | Potato, thyme and goat’s cheese pavé, p.44

makes 1 loaf

  • 1 smallish potato
  • cold water


  • 5g active dry yeast [The BBB recipe calls for “20g fresh yeast or 7g instant (¼oz active dry) yeast”]
  • 7g flaxseed, finely ground [The BBB recipe calls for “1 egg, beaten”]
  • 23g milk
  • flour [The BBB recipe calls for “500g (4½ cups) strong white flour”]
       » 375g unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
       » 25g “no additives” 100% whole wheat flour
       » 5g wheat germ
  • 40g cold unsalted butter, cubed [The BBB recipe calls for “50g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes”]
  • 188g water, at body temperature [The BBB recipe calls for “250 ml (1 cup + 2 tbsp) warm milk or water]”
  • Zero sugar [The BBB recipe calls for “1 tsp sugar”]
  • 10g Jane Mason whole wheat starter, from jar in the fridge
  • 75g potato, mashed [The BBB recipe calls for “100g (1 cup) plain mashed potato, warm (no added cream or butter)”]
  • Zero cheese and fresh thyme leaves [The BBB recipe calls for “150g (2/3 cup) mature goat’s cheese, grated” and “1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves” to be added to the dough itself]]
  • 5g seasalt [The BBB recipe calls for “1 tsp fine salt”. Next time, put in 7 grams salt.]

[The BBB recipe calls for “150g (2/3 cup) mature goat’s cheese, grated” and “1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves” to be added to the dough itself]

  • creamy goat’s cheese
  • good quality olive oil
  • fresh thyme leaves
  1. potato: Wash (and peel, if you want – I didn’t) a small potato. Cube it and put it into a small pot. Cover with cold water, put a lid on and bring to a boil, cooking until the potato pieces are fork tender. Drain the potato, reserving the water for the bread dough. (I wish I had thought to do this! Silly me, I threw the cooking water down the drain.) Mash the potato with a fork and set aside to cool.
  2. mixing the dough:
    1. Start by activating the yeast: Put milk, ground flaxseed, and yeast into a small bowl and whisk. Set aside briefly.
    2. Put flours, wheat germ, and cube butter into a large mixing bowl (large enough for the dough to triple). Use a pastry cutter – or the tips of your fingers – to distribute the butter into the flour, until it resembles coarse sand.
    3. Add potato, water, the reserved yeast mixture, Jane Mason starter, and salt to the flour mixture. Stir everything together with a dough whisk (or wooden spoon) until all the flour is absorbed. You may have to dribble in a little more water. (I did….) Cover with a plate and set aside for about 30 minutes in the oven with only the light turned on (our kitchen is still on the cool side at around 16-18C).
  3. Stretching and folding the dough: Use one of your hands to reach down the side of the bowl to the bottom; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. Turn the bowl as you fold and re-fold the dough onto itself into the center. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter and spring, into the oven with only the light turned on). Repeat the folding step about 3 times in all at 30 minute intervals. You’ll notice that after each time, the dough will feel significantly smoother. After the final time of folding, re-cover the bowl and set aside in the oven with only the light turned on, until the dough doubles.
  4. Shaping: Scatter a dusting of all-purpose flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Fold the dough over in half, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Gently hit the sides to create a rectangle. Place the rectangle on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rest in a non-draughty spot for about 30 minutes or until the shaped rectangle is close to double.
  5. Preheating the oven: Make sure the bread stone is on the center rack. Turn the oven dial to 450F.
  6. Scoring and baking: Liberally spray the top of the loaf with water. Scatter flour overtop, then, using a very sharp knife, score the loaf deeply (but not through to the bottom) in a checker-board style. Place the tray on the hot baking stone. Immediately turn the oven down to 400F. The BBB recipe says it takes only about 30 minutes to bake. However, it was over an hour in our new oven before the bread had a nice dark gold crust, and sounded hollow when rapped on the bottom.
  7. Cooling: When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing or breaking apart and eating; the bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

The BBB recipe suggests cutting the bread into squares. Serve it re-warmed or at room temperature with goat’s cheese, olive oil and fresh thyme leaves.


Salt: The BBB recipe calls for salt AND cheese in the dough. If the cheese is omitted, the salt level should be raised. However much salt you use, I urge you to weigh it. For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?

Oven Temperature: We still haven’t figured out our new oven. The BBB recipes says to bake this bread at 400F for about 30 minutes. We know the new oven runs a little less hot than our old one (we would have had to bake this bread at 350F on the old oven). But even with the dial turned to 450F for preheating and then set at 425F, it took over an hour to bake the bread, in spite of the fact that I made three quarters of the BBB recipe. Without the added cheese… so it was even a smaller loaf.

Andrew Whitley is spot on:
The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precise temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven.
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control

Bake this bread in a hot oven….


For lunch, we made cheese snacks with another third of the bread, using cheddar cheese. We garnished them with the Georgian condiment, Ajika. (Remind me to rave more about Ajika!)

Cheddar Cheese Snacks with Ajika

And just a moment ago, T ground the last third of the bread into bread crumbs, to scatter on tonight’s dinner of spaghetti with chili.

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep BakingPotato, Thyme and Goat Cheese Pavé

Kelly is the host of March 2020’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

Something soft and easy for March. This was a nice, soft dough to work with. […] Beautiful soft and spongy texture. I riced my potatoes to make sure they were very uniform and not chunky. Reheats beautifully.
– Kelly, in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Pavé! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the doughnuts in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 March 2020. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ March 2020 Pains Pavés:

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands….

Not so long ago – not even a week – before the supermarket line-ups had even started for crazed people to stock up on (of all things) several months supply of toilet paper – a small group of us talked about handwashing and how hard it is to go the distance with 20 seconds. It’s not quite so hard after looking at these images from Kristen Bells’ Instagram Page:

Hand Washing Examples
1. Before Washing 2. ‘Rinse and Shake’ 3. Six Seconds No Soap 4. Six Seconds With Soap 5. Fifteen Seconds With Soap 6. Thirty Seconds With Soap

I was really surprised to learn that hand sanitizer can be really ineffective to remove dirt and food:

Hand sanitizers should not be used as a replacement for soap and water because they are not as effective at removing dirt or food and oils that may get on the hands after eating. […] When using a hand sanitizer, be sure that it is alcohol-based and contains at least 60% alcohol. Use a paper towel or cloth to remove any dirt or food on your hands. Apply the hand sanitizer as directed on the instructions. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands and between your fingers until your hands are dry.
ThoughtCo.com, Why You Should Wash Your Hands and How to Do It Properly

V, the doctor in our midst, talked about the petri dishes experiments she had to do when she was at Med School. One petri dish for a sample from unwashed hands, one petri dish for a sample from briefly washed hands and one petri dish for a sample for 20-second-washed hands. She said that in a relatively short time, the second petri dish bacteria reproduced exponentially more than the 1st petri dish bacteria (and that the 3rd petri dish bacteria were negligible).

Business Insider conducted a similar experiment [to Kristen Bell’s soap hand-washing], comparing hand sanitizer and a thorough hand-wash. […] As we found with our own experiment, hand sanitizer is effective, but nowhere near as effective as hand-washing.
– Business Insider: Photos show why hand sanitizer doesn’t work as well as soap and water to remove germs
The spread [of covid-19] can be slowed, public health professionals say, if people practice “social distancing” by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement. Still, without any measures to slow it down, covid-19 will continue to spread exponentially for months. To understand why, it is instructive to simulate the spread of a fake disease through a population. We call our fake disease simulitis. […] Let’s see what happens when simulitis spreads in a town of 200 people. We will start everyone in town at a random position, moving at a random angle, and we will make one person sick. Notice how […] the number of sick people rises rapidly as the disease spreads.
– Harry Stevens, Washington Post | Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”, 14 March 2020


As suspected, almost all of my upcoming concerts for March and April have been cancelled. As for the ones that haven’t been cancelled yet, they probably will.
Happy Hand Washing!!

Pain Pavé (BBB March 2020)

Sunny Day!
Sweeping the clouds away!

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7 responses to “Potato Pavé with Goat Cheese and Thyme (BBB March 2020)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    No remorse, lol! Except the lack of salt… Yes, lumps of potatoes have happened to me before, hence my decision to use the food mill to rice the potatoes very finely. Love your topping of goat cheese and thyme! And yes, “cakey” is a pretty good descriptor for the crumb, it has that softness and tenderness to it.

    edit 17 March 2020, 17:52: If only I’d noticed the instruction to put the mashed potato in when it was still warm! I suspect that the lumps might not have been quite so tenacious. – Elizabeth

  2. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    Soft for March, but with a nice crust. Maybe salt is needed … I left out the cheese too. Beautiful loaf & scoring!

    edit 17 March 2020, 17:54: Salt does seem necessary, Elle. At least for us… otherwise there is a slight dullness to final flavour of the bread. – Elizabeth

  3. Tanna (MyKitchenInHalfCups)

    Your loaf is already gone! Wow. I’d have been super happy with that scoring even not on the diagonal. Great color.
    I think mine took 40 minutes total to bake but I thought it was all the extras (egg, milk, cheese, butter) that slowed things down.
    So far we’ve done toast which inspired me to make some croutons. I did use cheese and butter. Yes it does make it really rich hence it made gorgeous croutons.
    LOVE your stain glass window! sunshine has been welcome around here too.

    edit 17 March 2020, 17:56: Yes, it’s true. We’re hogs. But, it was a small(ish) loaf. And we didn’t finish all the bread crumbs….
    Thank you! We love that window too. It’s especially wonderful when the morning sun hits it. (I know it’s a dumb reason to buy a house, but the window was one of the things that made me want to put in the offer.)
    – Elizabeth

    1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

      Oh, how did I miss that pretty window? Had to go back and look and now I have the Sesame Street theme stuck in my head…

      edit 17 March 2020, 17:58: Ha. Kelly, you missed the stained glass window because it wasn’t there when you first came in. I really wanted to get this report online in time and hadn’t managed to amalgamate the two photos I took just seconds apart – one with the flash – one without. I inserted the photo this morning. – Elizabeth

  4. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    I’m looking at those cheese snacks. Great idea! I still have some left so I might just try that. By the way, I had some lumps of potatoes in my dough as well. I didn’t worry about it. It provides extra texture.

    edit 19 March 2020, 10:13: It’s nice to hear I’m not alone, Cathy. But I realize that once the bread was out of the oven, I completely forgot about the potato lumps!! Thinking back, I don’t remember noticing if they were even vaguely noticeable.
    Yes! Make cheese snacks. They’re delicious with this bread.
    – Elizabeth

  5. Claudia (Honey from Rock)

    Your bread looks great! I’m making a sort of pave thing, called pita breads. Mine is sourdough pita, and is rising at present.

    edit 22 March 2020, 17:25: Thank you, Claudia! I’ve made pita but never tried making sourdough pita. What a good idea. I particularly like it when pita puff up while they bake. (I don’t think pavé would do that….) – Elizabeth


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