Thanks, marja-leena. The word is used in a similar sense in numismatics, too. What’s interesting is that all of these usages retain the original sense of “evidence to establish the fact (of something” from ca. 1225, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Rachel – I’d be interested to know how long you let it rise? I could easily adjust my rising times, but am simply wary of altering a technique that took me years to perfect. Making bread isn’t some occasional artisinal thing; I make all the yeast bread that I and my parents consume. Thus my orientation is toward predictability rather than experimentation, I’m afraid.

I broke my Mom’s largest ceramic bread bowl (also inherited from her Nanna) years ago. Fortunately, we quickly found a replacement at a locally owned department store that specializes in stuff the big boxes don’t bother with. It’s a bland factory make, though; it sounds like your bowl has much more charm.