oh yeah. still on my bread baking kick. this time, from p. 88 of The Breads of France by Bernard Clayton, Jr. his story behind this bread is marvelous, it gives you a real sense of how a boulangerie in France operates, including explosions and blackouts. apparently this bread is also pictured in a tapestry that features the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy in 1066.
this bread was work. as in 18 minutes of kneading and 10 minutes of beating type of work. i collaborated with my roommate to make this bread, and he insisted on kneading and beating for the proper times.
i’m lucky our downstairs neighbors moved out, because for a good 10 minutes all you could hear was WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK as we took turns slamming a rolling pin on the bread over and over.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups warm water
1 tsp dry yeast
The night before, make the starter by putting the flour in a bowl and create a well for the water. After filling it with the water, sprinkle the yeast and begin stirring it together. It’ll be sticky, but keep on working it until you it’s all nicely mixed, and then knead for about 2-3 minutes. Grease the bowl, then place the lump of dough in it, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit overnight.
All of the starter
3/4 cup warm water
1 tbs salt
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
The next day, uncover the dough and punch it down. Then roll it into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Add the water and the salt and begin mixing it. The starter will start to dissolve, so add 1 cup of flour. Continue mixing. Add the rest of the flour, and use your hands to keep mixing it. Although it’s a lot of flour, just keep working it and the dough will eventually accept it all.
Once basically mixed, start kneading! For a fun 18 minutes. Emphasis on fun.
After you’re all sore from kneading…. time for the beating! No less than 10 minutes. Use a rolling pun and start hitting your dough from side to side. Eventually the dough will become “velvety” – you’ll notice the change in texture.
After that, divide the dough into two round balls and place them on your baking sheet. Cover it with parchment paper, and let it rise for about 1 hour. After it’s finished rising, make about 6-7 deep slashes on the surface.
Bake the loaves in a preheated 400F oven for 50-60 minutes. Halfway through, rotate the sheet. You can tell the bread is finished when you knock on the bottom of the loaf and hear a hollow response.
Slice and dig in! The crust is very crispy, and since right now the apartment I’m living in doesn’t have a large serrated knife, I had a fun time trying to slice it.
Oh… I forgot to mention. We added sesame seeds because we have a ton. They aren’t originally part of the bread.