French bread recipe

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Day One:

  • 130g French bread flour*
  • 1tsp honey
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 115 ml filtered water

Day Two:

  • 100g soft 00 flour
  • 400g French bread flour
  • 290 ml filtered water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

*I sourced this flour from  www.flourbin.com – it’s their Type 55 wheat flour, with added vitamin C. In the main recipe, I used the same, with 100g of the Caputo red 00 flour.

Starter

Mix the overnight ingredients. It’s very runny, more like a batter than a dough: you could do it with one of those plastic whisks rather than a dough hook. Leave the batter/dough in a cold place overnight.

Baking Day

The next day, take it from the cold place and let it warm up for half an hour or so before adding the other ingredients – except the salt. Mix with a dough hook until you start to see some stretch in the dough, then add the salt. Adjust the amount of water, if necessary to make the dough properly wet. As with yesterday’s Pane Pugliese recipe, sticking to the bottom is okay, but it shouldn’t stick to the sides. The type 55 flour is lower in gluten than the strongest bread flours, and the flourbin recommends around 10% less water.

Turn out onto a floured surface and fold/stretch, as with the Pane Pugliese. Do this three times over about an hour, then gently shape into a ball and put into an oiled bowl until it has doubled in size.

Knock the dough back, divide it into three, and shape into loaves. I used a twin baguette tin, and put the spare on on a tray in more of a ciabatta type shape. Leave it for another hour or so, until doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 240°C and, just before cooking, steam it by adding hot water to a hot roasting tin on the bottom of the oven.

When the loaves have doubled in size, then slash the tops (or snip with scissors), and brush with some salted water before putting into the oven.

Leave at 240° C for 10 minutes, then open the door to release the steam and reduce the heat to 205°C and cook the loaves for another 15 minutes.

Turn out onto a cooling rack when golden brown and hollow-sounding, then leave to cool before slicing. You should end up with a loaf that’s satisfyingly crunchy in the crust with a chewy crumb.

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