French Bread-Bread Baking Babes

BBB bread March 2009

Today it is Bread Baking Babes day and my mother’s birthday so I have just have to dedicate this bread to her. I am totally convinced that she would have loved it, it is incredibly good and I can see her face while eating it with some nice butter on it-very similar to mine I bet, a kind of ” I am standing one step from heaven” expression on it. I really like this bread, it takes some time to make but there’s not much of actual work to do, it’s more a question of letting it rise slowly without the help of yeast. As usual it took a bit longer here because our house is still a bit cooler than normal homes but it worked anyway. It is Sara from I Like to Cook who is the kitchen of the month, she is a quiet one in this group of babbling bakers, she is, but when she says something it is worth listening to, she doesn’t waste words like I do so I was pretty sure that her choice of bread would be an excellent one and it was! I used my wheat sour dough and it gave it that slightly sour tang that is so good, I don’t know if that is the case if you use a piece of old dough (see recipe) but I suspect it! The crust is incredible too, the only thing that I didn’t like is that you end up with two small loaves, I want to end up with two big ones!

If you want to bake this bread and be a Bread Baking Buddy, check out the details over at Sara’s blog and please check out the rest of the Bread Baking Babes here to see if they like this bread as much as I do! (They might not have posted about it yet though so try again if that is the case!): Bake My Day (Karen), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Grain Doe (Gorel), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), Living In The Kitchen With Puppies (Natashya)

BBB bread March 2009

Pane Francese from King Arthur Flour.

Creating the Levain chef
(60 ml/1/4 cup leftover dough, or 60 ml/1/4 cup sourdough starter, unfed)
60 ml/1/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
120 ml/1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

Let the chef soften in the warm water, then whisk out any lumps. Mix in the flour until you’ve formed a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes. The chef (now called a levain) should be moist but firm. Place the levain in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place till doubled. This will take 5 to 6 hours.

Second-Stage Levain
All of the levain (from above)
120 ml/1/2 cup warm, chlorine-free water
355 ml/1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour (I USED MONITOBA FLOUR)

“Refresh” the levain by placing it in a medium-sized bowl, chopping it into small pieces, and adding the water and 120 ml/1/2 cup of the flour, stirring till smooth. Add the remaining flour gradually to create a stiff dough. Knead the dough for several minutes, then return it to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 3 to 5 hours, till it doubles in size. Punch down the risen levain, and reserve 1/4 cup as your next chef. (Let the piece ferment at room temperature for 3 hours, then wrap it in plastic and store it in the fridge. It’ll develop a hard crust; that’s OK.)

all of the second-stage levain (from above)
180 ml/3/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
2 teaspoons salt
470 ml/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

Chop the levain into small pieces, and mix them with the water, stirring till they begin to dissolve. Add the salt, then 355 ml/1 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured or lightly greased work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny, adding only enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking unbearably. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours.

Shaping: Cut the dough into 2 pieces, and shape each piece into a round or oval. Transfer the loaves to a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or to a floured banneton; cover with a heavily floured cloth, and allow them to rise for 2 to 3 hours, or until they’re almost doubled in bulk.

Don’t slash or glaze the loaves. Bake the bread in a preheated 230°C/450°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they’re a deep, golden brown. Yield: 2 (SMALL) loaves.

Source: King Arthur Flour

BBB bread March 2009-2wtmk.jpg

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