This is for anyone who wants to read more about the French Bread from yesterday’s post.
July’s breads for Mellow Bakers: French Bread, Bialys and a 70 % rye sourdough – all from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman.
I thought I’d start with this one. If you want to see what other Mellow Bakers made of this, click here. Or visit their blogs, some of which are listed in the side bar. And if you want to join in we’re very nice and friendly, jump in at any time, and bake any of the breads you fancy and either post on your blog or post something about it on the Mellow Bakers site. If you need cheering up, you can always visit the bread disaster thread too :)
Jeffrey Hamelman’s French Bread is a dough made with 70 % water to 100% flour, 2% salt and a little yeast: so quite a loose dough but not wildly wet like a ciabatta. It’s what is called a straight dough. No poolish, no pre-ferment, nothing. So this was a good opportunity to review a basic bread dough and practise the dreaded shaping. If you want to have a go at these, just follow a basic dough recipe, watch the shaping video, heat your oven up really hot, dig out a good sharp knife to do the slashes with and give it a go. If you make the dough with a little less water, say 65 % water to 100 % flour you will find the dough easier to shape.
I use less yeast than in the book, 1/2 tsp per 450 grams of flour, because while it has been so hot lately the bread has been rising super quick and I wanted to keep to a longer rise in order to give the flour a chance to ferment a bit and develop some flavour.
How to make it a bit more interesting while following the recipe?
I decided to make two half batches of this dough using two different flours and try to keep the rest of the process the same. This was my attempt at being scientific and methodical, not something that comes particularly naturally to me.
I made one lot with Waitrose Organic Strong White flour, my usual bread flour and the other lot with organic 00 Italian flour. In theory, the 00 should give you a thinner and crisper crust. or so I have read, plus it is lower in protein and feels finer so the bread should be different….
I mixed both lots of dough in a stand mixer for the same periods of time. There was a time lag of about 10 minutes as I mixed one lot straight after the other.
Bulk prove of 3 hours, with two folds. At the end of that time, I shaped the dough into rounds, went upstairs and watched the baguette shaping video by Ciril Hitz on Mellow Bakers again….
think I got the idea…..came downstairs and had a go. The point of the pre-shaping is made clear in the video and every time I skip doing it, I regret it. This time I did my best to play along though.
I reckon I need to do a few more thousand before I can look as cool as Mr Hitz! The chief disaster point seems to be the level of tackiness needed for successful shaping, too much flour sprinkled on the worktop and the dough gets little wrinkles in it and rolls around, too little and it sticks and you lose your shape and the careful tightening of the surface goes to hell in a handbasket…
I remember reading Susan at Wild Yeast writing about making baguettes solidly for two weeks at SFBI, that’s the answer I guess if baguettes are what your heart desires :) There is a huge gulf between having fun at home and turning out commercial baguettes, I’m still at the having fun stage :)
What happened next?
Constrained like a lot of home bakers by the size of the oven, I divided each lot of dough into three portions, giving me approx 250 grams each and aimed for a length of about 14 inches on the baguettes. You could call them mini bags.
So I did my best impersonation of Ciril Hitz, got a bit better by the time I got to the last one, isn’t that always the way? Then I put them in a couche cloth for a final prove of an hour and a half. I noticed that Ciril’s way gave me better, more rounded ends, not the little nose drip ends I often create.
Heated oven up with the kiln shelf in up to 240 C on top bottom heat. Little iron tray on shelf below for the boiling water to go in to create a bit of steam.
All going reasonably well, baguettes rising nicely, actually they don’t look too bad at this point….
…popped them in the oven anyway and baked them super hot with steam for about 22 minutes. Those are the darker ones made with the regular flour. I liked the colour of these ones best.
Then into the oven with the second lot the oven was a bit cooler, maybe 10 degrees or so - they came out a little paler, was this due to the flour type, the bit of protective flour on the top, who knows? I take my hat off to any one who can really only change one variable and leave everything else exactly the same when they are home baking, I sure can’t manage it.
Anyway here they are – I liked the darker crusted ones colour wise, however the paler ones made with the 00 tasted a little sweeter and wheatier. What’ s interesting is how similar their insides look, not a whole lot of difference there in the look and texture of the crumb.