If you want to join in with this escapade, you can get advice, give advice, and talk bread in general on the Mellow Bakers forum. We’re very nice and friendly, jump in at any time, bake any of the breads you fancy, either one for this month or a previous one. Then post on a blog or on the forum direct. You can upload pics if you feel like it. And if you need cheering up, you can always visit the bread disaster thread too and see my very first loaves.
The Country Bread is a plain dough made with white bread flour, water, yeast and salt.There are no enrichments, no milk to sweeten and soften the crumb, no butter or oil to coat the gluten strands, no egg, no malts.
The recipe uses a paté fermentée, as we have done previously when making Rustic Bread, or for pizza. I quite like using old dough in new dough usually but on this occasion I wasn’t that excited by it if I’m honest, the difference between this bread and the Rustic Bread is gigantic.
Tiny amounts of yeast, long prefermentation of half the flour in the final dough, fairly wet, quite a lot wetter than the doughs we have been making up to now. Needs lots of stretches and folds to bring it under control and I suspect the temperature control is fairly important too otherwise your timings go way off. Drop the dough temperature by four degrees and your proof time will need to be extended and so on.
I used my local supermarket, Waitrose Organic strong bread flour for this bread. You need something with a reasonably good gluten level to cope with the long prove time.
The loaves I made here are certainly good enough to eat, but in a way they remind me of loaves I made when I started out. They stuck a little in the banettons, probably because I dusted them with wheat flour and not rye flour and they spread a lot when I inverted them onto the peel, the knife dragged when I slashed them so I knew they weren’t going to open up properly. They recovered fairly well in the oven; the Angel of Spring doing her thing as always.
If this had been one of the first breads I had made I would be really pleased with this – but I know I can make better tasting bread than this. So before anyone says, oh they look fine, I agree! Yes they do look fine and rustic and all that sort of thing, I am not complaining, just telling you how it tastes from where I am, the photos don’t tell the whole story after all and sometimes the photos make the breads look better than they really are.
Taste wise:- This is a bland bread with a good open crumb, irregular holes and a chewy crust. Maybe it needs a little more salt, maybe I should have added some of my sourdough starter to it to give it some flavour, it needs something, the long pre-ferment didn’t do anything for it tastewise.
The biggest effect of the long pre-ferment and proves is on the texture of the bread, which is very similar to what one get with a white sourdough. So if you want a bread with the open, slightly chewy texture of a typical sourdough but a very mild flavour this is the one for you. It’s not the one for me. If I’m going to spend that much time monitoring a dough, stretching and folding and so on, I want to get great bread, not just a good enough bread.
… Looking forward to making that brioche, a few quick marches to burn off the calories first…..