French country bread recipe
French Country Bread recipe
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|For the sponge starter:|
|240 ml||lukewarm water lukewarm water, bottled spring water at about 35-40ºC, 95-110ºF|
|¼ tsp||active dried yeast|
|125 g||white bread flour|
|4 tbsp||wholemeal flour|
|For the dough:|
|240 ml||lukewarm water lukewarm water, bottled spring water at about 40-45ºC, 100-110ºF|
|¾ tsp||active dried yeast|
|375 g||white bread flour, you may need up to 500g|
|1 tsp||salt, but up to 1½ tsp to taste|
Spring water is the original choice for this recipe. If your water supply is quite soft, it may suffice.
To prepare the sponge:
Thoroughly mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, to a thick mixture. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for at least 2 hours, overnight or longer as desired.
To make the dough:
Stir the sponge mixture with a spoon and transfer to a larger bowl. Add the sugar, water, yeast, about 300g of flour and the salt. Knead to a soft dough, adding more flour as necessary until the dough appears workable, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and turn the dough 2-3 times to oil. Cover the bowl with oiled cling film and allow to rise for 1½-2 hours until doubled in size.
To prepare in a bread machine:
Place the starter ingredients in the pan, start on dough process, allow it to mix briefly and then switch off the machine. Cover the pan and allow to rest for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready, add the dough ingredients and set to dough cycle and start the machine. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and continue as for manual procedure.
After the initial rise, gently partially deflate the dough without eliminating all the contained air and form into a ball.
Place two heavy baking trays one within the other and lightly sprinkle the top one with cornmeal. Place the ball of dough on top of the cornmeal, seam side down. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise until about 50% larger, 45-90 minutes depending on room temperature and weather. Make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts into the surface of the bread at an angle to its surface. Lightly dust the top with flour.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 9, 240ºC, 475ºF. Either spray the oven sides with water or place 8-10 ice cubes in a tray on the shelf below the one you intend to use. After several minutes, reduce temperature to Gas Mark 7, 220ºC, 425ºF and bake for an initial 15 minutes, during which time throw in another ice cube every 3-4 minutes or spray another jet of water. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, or until done and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
About this recipe:
I tried this recipe using tap water to mix and it was not too successful – our local water supply is excessively hard. I intend to retry with bottled water. I normally use the water for bread making and it is not normally an issue, but I have sometimes used cooled boiled water when in doubt.
A friend did try the recipe with sparkling spring water (peach flavoured!) and he said that it was his most successful bread ever! I believe that I once heard Paul Hollywood (a well-known artisan bread maker and TV chef) say some years ago that he used sparkling spring water for most of his breads, but not the flavoured type.
ca. 25 min
ca. 4 hrs
Grade of difficulty:
Calories per portion:
Reference: French country bread recipe
Recipe type: xarchivex
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