Using this lovely banneton makes it easy to create a Couronne Bordelaise, one of the breads that I made recently here. If you don’t have one of these, you can put a small bowl in a basket and cover it with linen for a similar effect. For a recipe and instructions …
I have tried this now with various doughs, you need something that you are happy shaping into balls, not too firm, not too loose. The Vermont sourdough which is made with a little rye flour works well, or maybe one of the firmer yeasted doughs would do a good job.
The one I made yesterday used a basic white sourdough made with:
150 g white starter (100% hydration)
500 grams white bread flour
320 grams water (this has caused difficulties for one reader, so if you are unused to using a wetter dough, then reduce the amount of water by 50 g to make the dough easier to work with, or use the weekly sourdough formula which gives you a firmer dough)
11 g salt
Mix, do three light kneads over half an hour.
Then leave for a further two and a half hours with stretch and folds, if you remember, every forty minutes or so.
Divide the dough into nine portions; make eight of these the same weight and the ninth a bit heavier. These ones here were approximately 100 grams in weight.
Pre-shape the dough into little balls and leave to rest on a floured surface.
Flour your basket well, do not skimp on the flouring! I got away with white flour this time, but I had used rye on it previously which I prefer to use for flouring cloths.
Take the heaviest boule, flatten it and then roll it out into a circle that will drape over the centre part and extend by at least 2 cms into the base of the basket. As I am incapable of rolling dough thinly into a circle I put a dinner plate over my best effort and cut round it. The photo below is from the first time I made it with the Vermont sourdough recipe.
Reshape the eight remaining boules so they are nice and tight. Damp the central circle of dough with a little water.
Place the eight balls in the basket, seam side up. If your boules don’t join up at this point, don’t worry, they will once the dough has proved some more.
Then, the slightly tricky part, you need to cut eight triangles of dough from the centre ‘hill’. You start from the middle point and make the cuts in line with the gaps between the balls, so that the triangles will sit over the centre of the balls, then fold them down on top of the balls, but without cutting through the linen.
The first time I used a knife, the second time I used scissors as I didn’t want to damage the linen of the banetton. It doesn’t have to be perfectly tidy, because this side forms the bottom of the loaf.
Leave for a final proof, covered with a shower cap or a tea towel, in a warm place for two to three hours.
Pre-heat oven to 230 º C or as high as it will go. Place a metal tray for steam on the rack below where you are going to bake your loaf. When ready to bake, upturn the banneton to allow the dough to come out upside down and gently brush away any clumps of damp flour. It will look something like this:-
Sprinkle with fresh flour if you like the visual contrast between the floured parts and the unfloured parts of the loaf. Do not slash the loaf! Put the ring on a tray or an oven stone in the oven. Add half an inch of boiling water to your steam tray.
Turn the oven down after five minutes or so to 220 º C and then after another 15 minutes to 200 º C and bake for approx another fifteen to twenty minutes, a total of thirty five to forty minutes altogether, depending on how crusty you like your bread!
I learnt the technique from looking at two wonderful sites. One of my first ‘discoveries’ when I started internet baking was the lovely Le Petit Boulanger. Here’s the link to their couronne page ; I’ve also seen it beautifully illustrated by Susan of Wild Yeast here who makes a six boules version which was the first one I tried; she also details how to do this without the special banneton.
The slightly tricky bit for me is getting the dough circle correctly and evenly positioned over the centre, but that’s about all.
I don’t know if you will find this of interest but after I had made the first one a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would try to do it another way and not bother with the cutting triangle thing. What a fiddle-faddle I thought. So I just put a ring of dough in the bottom of the basket and plopped the balls on it. This is a picture of the result. You can see the difference. The centre of the loaf is not smooth so you lose the illusion that it is made from a cleverly shaped piece of dough and not eight little balls; and you also lose the wonderful ‘slashed effect’ that following the traditional method gives.
Go on, give it a go ! – it looks very impressive and I like the slices of bread you get from it. You get wonderful neat chunks of bread when it is sliced. Perfect for sharing or for a gift of bread!
April 29th 2011 Have a look at Andy’s Royal Wedding Couronnes here. He has a French guest baker today!
I’m adding a photo here to give an idea of the proportions of the ring that you need if you are going to make this without the banetton I used. You can use a small bowl as the centre piece and cover it with a piece of cloth, something like window scrim would be good, or a fine worn out tea towel. Hope this helps!
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