pain de campagne - baking bread

I've tried my hands on focaccia before. Never on real bread. The focaccia never worked out too great, so I'm doubting why I think a real Frenchy loaf type of bread would be a success. But I desperately want to be able to bake a proper bread which I can serve guest with cheeses, real nice butter and other dips. Because you can put love in bread, it's one of the core ingredients. Maybe the most important one. So rather than some random love from the local baker (or is that from a bigger bakery company manufacturer type of thing?), I would like to serve guests some love in this appropriate way.

This recipe is from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc. And the recipe worked!

This recipe takes two days. Which isn't as bad as it sounds. You have to make a starter/leaven for extra taste, and that starter dough takes a night to ferment. The ingredients for this bread are really simple, attainable and cheap:

Strong plain white organic bread flour (100g & 950g)
I didn't bother to ask whether the flour I bought at the bakery was organic, he said it was American, I think. Raymond said the choice of flour is quite important for the quality of the end product. I'll get better informed about flour next time.

Dark rye flour (100g & 130g)
I'm not even sure I used dark rye. Probably not then.

Fresh yeast (5g & 22g)
I bought this at the baker, for I think...15 cents!

Cold water (135ml & 680ml)
Freshly tapped. I put it in the fridge to make sure it was cool, whilst weighing the other ingredients.

Salt (15g)

Above is a picture of the starter: I simply combined all the ingredients (the low quantities, and NO salt). Kneaded a little, shaped it into a ball. Covered in cling film & let it work on itself for the night.

The next day I weighed the rest of the ingredients and put them in the bowl of my mixer. Attached the dough hook. Lowest speed. And off the thing went to do the work for me. 



My mixer couldn't handle the dough. It started trembling and warming up. Really quite sad to see. 

So yeah it was gonna be a sporty exercise for my hands. 

I feel stupid saying this, but, I don't really know how to knead well!
So it took way longer than the 10 minutes the recipe said. It just wasn't becoming as elastic as it should be. And probably if I had continued, the bread would be more....something. I don't know. 

After the kneading I initiated Proving Phase 1: left it covered in cling film for an hour. 

When Phase 1 ended, I divided the dough in 4 equal parts. Shaped them in rounds.
Time for Proving Phase 2: balls covered in cling film resting another 1.5 hours.

Almost finished.

After the proving was all over and done with. I made a cut  (lenghtwise) in one of the dough balls. Dusted it with flour. And slided the bread in the middle of a very hot oven (preheated at 250C). On the bottom of the oven I placed a roasting tin in which I poured boiling water.

Baked it for 20-25 minutes.

It wasn't as light and airy as I expected it to be. But the taste was really good. I baked the other 3 loaves for a shorter time (12 minutes) and let them cool and put them in the freezer. Homemade bread at the next dinner party!

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