KAREN’S FOUR HOUR FRENCH BREAD

My mile-long list of breads “to make soon” was shaken up by a recent post published by my friend Karen. It passed in front of all others, elbowing a Rustic Sourdough here, a Danish Rye there, a couple of Pretzel Loaves, and a few Crumpets. I could not get it off my mind, because not only her bread looked amazing, but she developed the recipe to make it happen in four little hours! Four hours from the time you grab the flour to watching the bread cool down and sing back to you…  I simply had to try it. With just a little adaptation, using spelt flour instead of regular whole-wheat. Why? My whole-wheat was in the freezer and I had just a small amount of spelt left in the pantry, which turned out to be exactly the 50g needed for the recipe. It is called flour fate.

four-hour-bread2

KAREN’S FOUR HOUR FRENCH COUNTRY BREAD

overview of the recipe

450 grams bread flour
50 grams whole wheat flour (I used spelt flour)
380 grams 90 to 95 degrees F water
10.5 grams fine sea salt
4 grams instant yeast

Flours are combined with water and mixed. Autolyse 20 minutes. Salt and yeast sprinkled on top. Incorporated by folding

Rest the dough 20 minutes. Fold. Rest 20 minutes. Fold. Bulk proof 2 hours.
(I proofed for 3 hours due to unforeseen circumstances).

Shape. Final rise 1 hour. Heat oven to 450F.

Bake for 40 minutes at, 30 minutes covered, generating initial steam using your favorite method.

Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the full, detailed recipe, visit Karen’s site

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Comments: As you can see, I went with a different pattern for slashing the dough, but when it opened, it had a mind of its own. I did not get a star-shaped pattern, but it’s ok. I definitely want to keep practicing.  The bread had excellent oven spring, and made all sorts of nice noises while cooling, something that never fails to make a baker happy.
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The bread was out of the oven a little after 5:30pm on Saturday, and my original plan was to slice it next day. However, when Phil saw the bread he gave me two options: slice it right away and hand him a slice, or witness him going at it with his hands and teeth. I chose the first option, and contrary to all my principles, sliced the bread while it was still warm.  The crumb suffers a little, but truth be told, nothing beats the taste of bread fresh out of the oven!

crumb

This would be an ideal bread for those a bit afraid of all things yeast. No sourdough starter needed, pretty straightforward method, and wonderful results. Plus it all happens in a reasonably short time, as far as bread baking is concerned.

Karen, you outdid yourself with this one!
Thanks for another great recipe…

french-country-bread

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17 thoughts on “KAREN’S FOUR HOUR FRENCH BREAD

  1. Oh YUM! I have never, ever baked a loaf of homemade bread in my life, but you make it look so easy. Since I know next to nothing about baking bread, what on earth does “bulk proof” and “generating initial steam using your favorite method” mean? Sincerely yours, newbie bread baker. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the technicalities! Here we go – when you make a bread dough, you need to allow the yeast to ferment the sugars in the flour, generating gas, which is what ultimately will make all those nice bubbles and the open crumb. Most recipes will allow the yeast to act on the dough for a few hours as a mass, inside a bowl – that is the “bulk rise” – once enough gas has been produced, and a bit of kneading to give the gluten structure, the bread is shaped in its final form – a boule, a baguette, a batard, a focaccia – but once it’s shaped, it needs to sit for another hour or so, to allow the yeast to generate a bit more gas right before baking, when the poor creatures will die in the heat of the oven, but not before doing a great job for us!

      As to steam – commercial ovens have generators of steam inside, because steam allows a great crust to form – not too much steam, just a little, and only in the initial stages of baking – people developed all sorts of tricks to generate steam – I like to add water to the lid of a Dutch oven, then empty is, and cover the bread with it. The residual water will steam the bread – I leave it covered for 30 minutes, then uncover to brown the crust

      did I help????

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this on Karen’s blog too and immediately marked it down to make in the very near future. Glad to hear it turned out so well. Who cares what the pattern looks like as long as it sings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right… the singing beats the looks, but I will try it again, I think I know why it did not work too well – I got too enthusiastic with the water in the lid of the Dutch oven, and spilled quite a bit on top of the dough when I tried to cover it. Oh, well…

      Like

    • It is definitely worth experimenting… I thought of adding a few seeds, maybe flax or sesame, not too much… we still have a couple of slices in the freezer, so I won’t bake another one quite yet…

      Like

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