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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ONE YEAR AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

TWO YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

SIX YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

PISTACHIO-WALNUT SOURDOUGH BREAD

The goal: to make a sourdough bread loaded – and I mean loaded – with nuts, a crumb not as open as my usual loaves, to enjoy with an assortment of cheeses, from  French Brie to Italian Gorgonzola, passing by Spain with its awesome Manchego.  My starting point was a recipe from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking, adapted to include whole pistachios, and small pieces of walnuts.  I wanted the pistachios to be the main textural component in the bread, and the walnuts to impart mainly their flavor throughout the crumb.  According to my dear husband, I hit the jackpot with this bread, he absolutely loved it. It reminded us of a bread we used to buy in a street market in Paris on Saturdays, except for the fact that the French version included a lot of sunflower seeds. Now, that’s an interesting idea for a future baking adventure… 😉

PISTACHIO-WALNUT SOURDOUGH BREAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Levain (you will use only half of it):
1 Tbs firm sourdough starter
45 g  warm water
75 g  bread flour

Dough:
300 g  bread flour
25 g  rye flour
25 g whole wheat flour
228 g  warm water
8 g salt
80 g walnuts, lightly toasted, in small dice
50 g whole pistachios, roasted

Make the levain by mixing all the ingredients and kneading lightly to form a smooth dough.  Keep at room temperature for about 12 hours (it should at least triple in size).

Make the dough by combining the three types of flour with the water.  Cover and let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. Add the salt and the levain (half of it only!) and knead a few times until it forms a shaggy mass.  Add the nuts and knead briefly to incorporate them.  Let it rest for 30 minutes, knead for about 10-20 seconds, and let the dough rest for another 30 minutes.  Knead (or fold) a few times, and let the dough rest for 1 hour.  Knead (or fold)  a few times, and let it rise undisturbed for 2 hours.

Pre-shape the dough as a round ball, let it rest for 15 minutes, then shape it in its final form, placing it in a banetton or another appropriate, well floured container, with the seam side up.   Cover and let it rise for 3 hours. Invert the dough on parchment paper, slash the surface, place on a baking stone on a 425 F oven, covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more, until dark brown and the internal temperature is at least 205 F.

Let the loaf cool over a rack  before cutting.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Making this bread was a labor of love, because I shelled the pistachios myself. My finger tips had quite a workout, so next time I will buy shelled pistachios to make life a little easier, and I advise you to do the same. At any rate, this bread is a nut-lover’s paradise.  The pistachios shine like little jewels, and the walnuts become almost sweet during baking.  I could not be happier with it, as it turned out exactly as I hoped.  Plus, it was another  successful performance by our Breville toaster oven!

Who could resist having a second slice?  😉

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PIERRE NURY’S RUSTIC LIGHT RYE: BOUGNAT

I’ve browsed the pages of Leader’s “Local Breads” countless times over the past year, but taking part in “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” challenge prevented me from indulging in many other bread books. Once the  challenge finished, I felt excited to attack other projects, but also somewhat paralyzed.   Not anymore: last weekend I dove into my first Local Breads recipe, a three-day project that led to a couple of delicious loaves of a rustic, toothsome bread.

PIERRE NURY’s RUSTIC LIGHT RYE
(from Local Breads)

Levain (sourdough starter)

45 g firm sourdough starter
50 g water
95 g bread flour
5 g whole wheat flour

Mix all the ingredients until they form a stiff dough, trying to incorporate all the flour into it. Place the dough in a container, marking its level with a tape or pen. Allow it to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, until it doubles in volume. This recipe will make more levain than used in the bread.

Bread dough

400 g water
450 g bread flour
50 g rye flour
125 g levain
10 g salt

Pour the water into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer. Add the bread and rye flours, stir with a spatula until it begins to form a dough. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Uncover the bowl, add the levain (only 125 g of it) and the salt, and start kneading with the dough hook on medium speed for 12-14 minutes, or until you have good gluten development (do a windowpane test). Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled bowl and keep it at room temperature for 1 hour. Scrape the dough into a floured surface and fold it a couple of times to induce gluten development. You can see how to fold the dough by clicking here. Repeat the folding again after 1 more hour. After the second folding cycle, let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature until doubled in volume. Transfer to the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

After 14 hours, my dough looked like this….

“Shaping” and baking
Remove the dough from the fridge 3 hours before baking. Heat the oven to 450F and place a baking stone (or tiles) on the middle rack.

Heavily dust the counter with flour, scrape the dough onto the counter, and open it gently into a 10 inch square shape, trying not to deflate it too much. I like to mark the dimensions on the flour, to have an idea of how much to open the dough.

Transfer each piece to a rimless baking sheet covered with parchment paper, stretching the dough to about 12 inches long. Let it fall naturally, without worrying about a precise shape. If baking both loaves at the same time, separate them by at least 2 inches.

Bake with initial steam for 20 to 30 minutes, until a dark walnut color develops on the crust. Let the loaves cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

for a detailed discussion on this particular bread, visit this link

Comments: The recipe was quite involved and challenging, but the gods of Bread were on my side and things went smoothly.  A dough with this much water (in baker’s terms it’s called a high hydration ratio) is tricky to deal with, but extra flour on the work surface helps. As some of the bakers in The Fresh Loaf put it “it feels like you’re making pancakes” when transferring the “bread” to the baking sheet. It’s impossible to shape it, so don’t even try. Lift it, gently stretch it  (it will almost stretch itself as it’s lifted), place it on the baking sheet and transfer it to the oven.   It’s a delight to witness its impressive oven spring (yet another fancy term to indicate that the dough rises a lot during baking).

The crumb almost made me shed a few tears… I know, I know… it’s pathetic, but bread make’s me emotional!  (In a good way.)  😉

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