The next bread in the lineup for the Mellow Bakers is a Country French Bread. Country Bread is made with a small percentage of yeast and a high percentage of pre-fermented flour, and utilizes a long fermentation process.
I like country bread because it’s easy to make and has a simple taste that goes well with a lot of different foods. It’s especially good as a sandwich bread because the flavor of the bread doesn’t compete with the flavors in the sandwich.
This bread can be made into ovals or rounds, crusty rolls, or large boules. I made an oval loaf and a round loaf and baked them in my La Cloche to get a chewy and delicious crust. The oven spring was tremendous with the La Cloche.
Makes: Two large loaves
The formula for this Country Bread can be found on page 113 of Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.
Due to copyright issues, we’re unable to post the recipe, but you might enjoy these comparable breads:
- French-Style Bread – The ingredients and process for making this bread are similar to Hamelman’s method. This one uses the sponge, or poolish, method -- no feedings, little pre-planning, lots of flexibility and superb bread. The dough, sponge starter and all, can be made in the bread machine, by hand, in the food processor, or using your stand mixer.
- Country French Bread - This is a very easy recipe for French Bread. Make it into round loaves or baguettes. Prepare the dough one day, refrigerate it over night and bake it the next.
This bread utilizes a pre-ferment of bread flour, water, salt and yeast. I made the pre-ferment on Friday night and let it stand for 12 to 16 hours, then decided not to bake the bread on Saturday so I put the preferment in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, I took the preferment out of the refrigerator and cut it into pieces. I covered the pieces and let them warm up to room temperature on the counter.
Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients and added the pre-ferment in chunks. The dough was moderately loose, with moderate gluten development.
The dough fermented for 2 1/2 hours and during this time I folded it twice at 50-minute intervals.
Then I divided the dough into two equal pieces and shaped one into oval shape and the other into a round shape and placed them in the banneton baskets seam-side up. My dough was really wet so I sort of plopped it into the baskets and covered them with plastic.
After the loaves had proofed for about an hour and a half, I transferred them from the banneton baskets to the La Cloche.
I scored the oval loaf down the middle with a serrated tomato knife.
Then I scored the round loaf in a pound pattern.
Then I baked each loaf in a preheated 450 degrees oven. I didn’t preheat or soak the La Cloche.
After about 15 minutes or so, I removed the La Cloche lid and continued baking the loaves until they were golden brown.
Look at the oven spring on these breads.
This is the crumb shot of the oval loaf.
I tried a piece the first night and I must admit that I didn’t like it that much. It was a bit lacking in flavor. However, I tried it again a couple of days later and it tasted much better. This bread will last a little bit longer because of the pre-ferment and longer fermentation periods.
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