beaucaire bread. yet another bread from mr. clayton’s the breads of france and how to bake them in your own kitchen. the bread is pretty normal until the moment before you bake it… because you bake it vertically. you stand the dough up and in it goes! i know i’m not making much sense, which is why i’ve drawn a little diagram below:
1 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
2 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105F-115F)
All of the starter
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F-115F)
1 tbs salt
5 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour, approximately
1 tbs melted butter + a brush
The night before, or at least 12 hours before baking, mix all the ingredients of the starter together in a large bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature.
The next day, add the water and salt to the starter. Stir it up, then stir in the flour one cup at a time until it becomes too shaggy. Then, switch to your hands and make sure it’s nicely mixed.
Knead it for a (miserable) 15 minutes.
Let it rest under an inverted bowl for 15 minutes.
Now, the fun begins. The numbers I use will correspond to the diagram, but I also have some photos. So whichever one works best for you!
1. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that measures 18in x 10in. It should be approximately 1/2 inch thick.
2. Let it rest (covered, as usual) for a moment, perhaps 5-10 minutes.
3. cut it hot dog style, in half. use a sharp razorblade or a pastry wheel, you don’t want the dough to “pull” as you cut it.
4. the original boulanger, monsieur moureau, strongly disapproves of this step… but mr. clayton finds that it works better for him… so you decide! brush one rectangle with water, then place the other dry strip on top of it.
5. mr. clayton says to sprinkle a surface with cornmeal to place your slab of dough on so it can move around as it rises, but i didn’t have any so I just used flour. flour your surface, then cover it with parchment paper and let it rise for 2 hours.
20 minutes before baking, slide an empty baking sheet into your oven and preheat it to 400F.
7. Now, it’s ready for bake time! Take out your hot baking sheet, and gently pick up a piece of dough and set it on a cut edge on the baking sheet. the diagram might be more clear in this case. ideally you’d get smooth perfect rectangles that stand…. but this isn’t cardboard, it’s dough! so it’ll be lumpy and slumpy.
if the cut edge on top is not obvious because it was squashed when you tried to slice the slab, just use a sharp knife dipped in water to re-cut the original line.
Bake it for 30-35 minutes. Halfway through, rotate the baking sheet so the bread is baked evenly. 10 minutes before the end (paradise), brush your loaves with melted butter. if not, they’ll look really pasty, and you’ll lose out on that buttery smell that will emit from your oven.
ps i would like to note that the pencil drawn version (original sketch) of the diagram took 5 minutes, and the awkward mouse drawn version one took 3 hours. this is a product of procrastination and not wanting to memorize irregular german verb tenses. but i think i’ve finally found a reason to dust off the old wacom tablet laying at home… if it’s still there.