During the last 2 years I am regularly baking, I became a decent baker on Pizza, Focaccia, Brioche, kugelhopf (a regional brioche from est of France) and many others. Moved in the US with Anaïs last year, I have had the possibility to improve my main baking tool from a tiny oven to a decent typical US oven (Frigidaire).
Now, I even started to “cultivate” my own sourdough (I will give you the recipe in another post soon), though I was never brave enough to do real bread.
Last week I purchased the book “In Search of the Perfect Loaf” from Samuel Fromartz. His story on how he was looking to continuously improve his baking technique initiate the bread baking inside on me.
I am trying all the recipes he describes at the end of each chapter and every-time is a success. Of course like every baker, I adapt the recipes for my kitchen, the flour I am using and my taste. The method is really what matter, and I suggest to purchase this book if you are really interested in improve your bread.
Hereafter the recipe I did for the pain de campagne.
Ingredients for 1 loaf:
- 150g sourdough starter
- 200g filtered water at ambient temperature
- 35g organic whole wheat flour
- 35g organic whole rye flour
- 230g organic un-bleached all-purpose flour
- 6g sea salt from Sardinia
- Semolina flour to dust the baking sheet
Day 1, Morning:
Refresh, if needed the Sourdough. In my case I refreshed already the day before, then my levain was extremely active. The pictures hereafter shows a comparison of the sourdough just refreshed and after one night in the refrigerator (very active).
Let it ferment at ambient temperature about 8 hours.
Day 1, Afternoon:
From Samuel Fromartz’s book I have learnt to mix the bread in a big bowl by hand to minimize the quantity of oxygen in the dough. The oxygen inhibits the effect of proteolytic enzymes that helps the bread to correctly proof.
- So, take a bowl and mix 150g water with the starter until dissolved.
- Add the rye and the whole grain flours, mix 1 minute.
- Add the white flour, mix 2 minutes.
- Make an indentation in the dough, put the salt on it and 25g of water. Do not mix. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit 30 minutes.
- Moist your hands with warm water and, without removing the dough from the bowl, stretch and pull the dough out from the edges and fold them in the middle. This phase will strengthen the gluten. Do it about 10 times then turn the dough over so that the part that was in the bottom of the bowl is now on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit about 20 minutes.
- Repeat 3 times the point #5.
- Place the bowl in a refrigerator on in a room no warmer than 55 ºF as long as 24 hours.
Day 2, Afternoon:
- The dough at this point should have doubled in volume and you should see fermentation bubbles. Dust the counter with flour and remove the dough from the bowl. Stretch the sides and fold in 4, turn over the dough. Stretch again the dough and fold toward the center, about 6-8 folds.
- Turn over the dough and seal the folds by turning the dough on the counter and apply a gentle pressure on the sides (this part is the most technical and it will take a while to learn).
- Prepare a colander lined with a floured towel. I used paper towel which works as good. Put the dough in the colander with the seal face up. Let it rest about 90 minutes.
- Meantime turn on the oven at 500 ºF with a baking stone (or baking steel) in the middle and a baking pan or a skillet in the bottom.
- Passed the 90 minutes the dough should be very elastic and about double the original volume. Flour some parchment paper with semolina and transfer the dough to it turning it over so that the seal are now face down.
- Gently dust the surface of the dough with semolina and score the loaf with a blade or a knife. You can choose the design you prefer.
- Transfer the dough in the baking stone and put about half cup of water in the baking pan to create steam into the oven cavity. Turn the oven temperature down to 460ºF and bake for 30 minutes.
- Open the door to eliminate the steam, remove the baking pan, close the door, turn the oven temperature down to 420ºF and bake for about other 10 minutes till you get a thick dark brown crust.
- Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door slightly, leaving the loaf inside for other 5-7 minutes.
- Let it cool down on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before cutting.