Monday, 1 November 2010

Country Bread

Country bread is, by default, everyone's favourite bread. The loaf version of a baguette, this is soft and spongy and chewy with the great tang you get from overnight fermenting. It's also very easy to make - all you need is a little time. Start the night before and by the next afternoon you will have some wonderful bread to share with your family. How great is that!
I recommend it with some country ham and mustard.

Country Bread
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for The Mellow Bakers

1 lb bread flour
9.6 oz water
½ Tbsp salt
1/8 tsp instant dry yeast

Final Dough
1 lb bread flour
12.2 oz water
½ Tbsp salt
½ tsp instant dry yeast
all of the preferment

*all water used for bread baking should be left out all night so that the chlorine evaporates - chlorine kills wild yeasts

Combine all the ingredients for the preferment - you may need to add a bit more water to get it to mix. Keep this in mind and use a bit less the next day if you have to - to make up for it. Cover and let ferment overnight - 12-16 hours.

Mix all the ingredients together in your stand mixer, except for the preferment. When thoroughly combined - add the preferment in chunks. Mix for 3 more minutes, until nice and soft and supple. Make into a boule (ball) and place into a clean bowl. Cover.

Let rise in the bowl for 2½ hours, folding it over itself every 50 minutes.

Divide into two, shape into rounds and let rest 10 minutes. Then shape into loaves and place into floured bannetons, seam side up.

Let rise for 1½ hours.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Slash and bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool on racks.