Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pain de Campagne - French Country Bread

So, of course, I had to choose the old-school, 12 hour process for baking bread. But that is quintessential me, stubborn as an ox in my convictions. This was the bread I had to make if I was ever going to bake bread from scratch.

This was also my first attempt at a step-by-step picture guide...phew...

Pain de Campagne (French Country Bread) (from the novel
Bread Alone with Recipes, by Judith Ryan)

All of poolish (starter/pre-ferment)
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp yeast
5 1/2 cups to 6 1/2 cups unbleached white bread flour (I used white wheat flour)
1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt

1. When poolish is ready, it will be bubbly and loose. Scrape it into a bowl and add water and yeast and stir till the poolish is broken up and mixture is frothy.


2. Add flour one cup at a time until dough becomes difficult to stir, then turn out onto a well-floured board.


3. Knead for 10-12 minutes, add flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Add salt and knead further for another 5-7 minutes. Whoever said kneading is therapeutic kneads to have their head checked....This was serious elbow grease people...


4. Dough will be quite sticky, but do not add more flour than absolutely necessary as this can dry out the bread. A moist dough yields a chewy interior.
5. When you press your finger into the dough and it springs back, then you can stop kneading. Hallelujah! You have no idea how many times I was trying that test. Clean out the bowl and oil it. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, turning it to coat the surface with oil. This prevents a dry crust from forming which can inhibit rising.


6. Cover the bowl with a damp bowl and let the dough rise till doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours. If you press your finger into the dough, and the indentation remains, it's risen enough.


7. Deflate the dough. Ka-POW!! Finally, some emotions come into play. Ermmm, the author said to deflate the dough GENTLY. Oops....


8. Uh oh, looks like Mr.Dough was upset at my Ninja moves.


9. Let the dough "rest" covered with a wet cloth for about 30 minutes.


10. Dust a baking sheet lightly with cornmeal.


11. Cut the dough into two pieces, shape into baguettes and place on the baking sheet floured with cornmeal. Place floured dish towels between and on the sides of the loaves for support. Dust tops with flour, cover with damp towels and proof (let them rise) for 1.5 - 2 hours or until they increase in size about 1 1/2 times. Are you starting to realise that this is the Artisan Bread in ONE Whole Day method?


12. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and boil water in a teakettle. When bread has risen, make diagonal slashes with a serrated knife. I left the shapes as baguettes, or you can shape the dough into circles, overlapping the ends and pinching them together to form a couronne.


13. Adjust oven rack so that it is in the center. Fill a heavy pan with the boiling water from the kettle and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven. *Sigh* I let you into the greasy innards of my oven...


14. Place the bread on the middle shelf and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lower the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake another 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when bottom crust is thumped.
15. Turn off oven, prop the door open slightly and let bread sit for 5 more minutes.
16. Remove bread and cool on racks. Resist the urge to cut or break off a chunk until the bread has cooled completely.

Houston...We HAVE HOMEMADE BREAD!!!!!!

One baguette for me and the other off to YeastSpotting!


Desisoccermom said...

Whoa Nelly! That was some elbow grease you put into making the bread girl! I know it was well worth the effort. Just don't be too exhausted to post anything else for the rest of the year. Where will I get my chuckles from?
BTW, love the scowling bread dough. Good job.

Bombay Foodie said...

Congratulations! There really isn't anything like homemade bread

Joanne said...

Congrats on the bread! It looks fantastic.

Honestly, I don't think kneading is as obnoxious as most people make it out to me. I find it kind of stress-relieving.