French Country Bread
Another family favorite (OK, so there is only one kind of bread that we do NOT love, and that is crustless, tasteless stuff that should not even be called bread) is French country bread, so called because we developed it from a recipe in the “Village Baker”, where it was listed among the French breads. While this does not sound terribly exciting for a story, the bread all the more is when it is topped with butter and cheese or olive oil and sopressata. Whether you eat it fresh or toasted, the white rye flour in this recipe transforms this bread from what could be a simple white bread into a “please-gimme-more” kind of an experience. Rye just makes every bread so much more exciting and gives it a broader taste profile.
Can I just say: “yum”? :)
French Country Bread
160 g white rye flour
920 g bread flour
16 g salt
15 g yeast
660 g water
230 g old dough/biga*
Makes 2 loaves.
*This bread is even better when you make it by keeping some of the dough for next time. So the first time you can get started with biga, then set aside the required amount of French country dough and keep using that if you bake more than once a week.
Combine all ingredients but the water in a bowl (cut the old dough into chunks) and while kneading with a dough hook, slowly add the water. When the dough starts clearing the sides of the bowl and looks uniform and smooth, remove and let rise until doubled, punch down and then retard in the fridge overnight.
TIP/NOTE: This dough is fairly soft, wet and may stick a great deal. Be sure to flour your hands down thoroughly before handling it, but resist the temptation to add more flour in general. Because it is so soft, it needs support for proofing, like a brotform or a couche.
On baking day, preheat your oven to 450 F (230 C). Shape the dough into two loaves and proof in two floured bannetons/brotforms or a couche until your finger leaves an indent. Place onto a lined and greased baking sheet, taking care that the loaves have plenty of space between them. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a deep brown. The internal temperature should register at least 200 F (93 C). Place on a cooling rack for at least an hour to let it cool.