This loaf is so simple, and delicious…fresh ground flour, water, salt, and yeast. The crumb is airy, supple and moist, and the crust is crackling chewy and caramelized.
This technique is the first part in a series designed to show you everything you need to know about fresh grains and flour from the Heritage Grain CSA.
I hope you will join me and benefit from the many years I’ve spent developing these techniques and recipes! This series will also have a video version for those who want to see it all in action! Stay tuned for the first episode….
While making bread can strike fear into the hearts of many and challenge home bakers to no end(part of the fun) the purpose of this technique is to eliminate heartbreak and make your baking endeavors easy and delicious. Could this be? Let’s give it a go!
There are two elements of this technique that make it truly special.
- Is that it is hard to go wrong
- You never are stuck waiting for the bread to rise or proof. We’ve actually turned the tables and let the bread wait for us when we’re ready. That is the key to “Cool Control” bread making. Mix it when you want shape it when you want and bake it when you want. Never get stuck with late night bread baking again!
This french bread was made with Red Lammas but the Redeemer wheat has even stronger gluten if you want a “taller” loaf. Or try the spelt!
- 1lb 5oz of whole wheat flour or 620g
- 2 tsp salt or 12g
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast or 3g (always use instant…it is much more consistent and reliable than active or cake yeast!)
- and 2 cups water warm water or 472g (90 degrees)
In the afternoon or evening mix your dough with a spoon or fork. It should take a little elbow grease but be mixed through by 20 seconds or so. If it comes together really fast or is taking a lot of work to incorporate all the flour your mix is respectively a bit wet or a bit dry. Adjust accordingly. This dough is moist and should be workable without turning it out and kneading. Just a bowl and spoon.
Once your dough is well mixed cover and put in your fridge. No kneading. No Mess. 5 minutes or less. It should be between 80 and 85 degrees.
In the morning you will find your dough has risen. This is a high hydration dough so it is fairly sticky and you will need to use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking to the table and your hands. Be generous but not excessive.
Turn out your dough onto your floured work surface, flour your hands and the dough, and give it a fold.
Gently shape your dough into a round and place in a floured banneton or a bowl fitted with a kitchen towel that is not terry cloth and that is heavily dusted in flour otherwise your dough will get stuck.
Place back into the fridge and it will be ready to bake by the afternoon having risen a second time. You could also leave it on the counter to rise and it will be ready to bake in about 1.5 hours.
Notice what we’ve done by rising the dough in the cold refrigerator. We have made it ferment so slowly that the windows for rising and baking have become very wide. This in turn make it very flexible to your schedule and hard to go wrong because it is all moving so slow.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake and put a sheet pan in the bottom of the oven to preheat as well. You must preheat for at least a half hour but not more than an hour for a good steamy bake and excellent oven spring for your bread.
Turn oven down to 450 degrees. Turn your risen loaf onto a sheet pan or peel if you are going to bake on a stone or in a cast iron pan, slash the loaf if you like and load into the oven.
Here is the most key part to a good bake: Steam…!
You will need a 1 cup of warm water to pour into the pan you preheated in the bottom of the oven. carefully pour the water in and close the door immediately to trap the steam. This will give your bread that caramelized chewy crust and help it to rise unhindered by early crust formation.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is the color you like it and the internal temperature is 200 degrees. This bread has a moist and supple interior and a chewy caramel crust that makes french bread irresistible and super versatile! Enjoy!!