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Basic Country Bread

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hornedfox's picture

New to bread making

May 17, 2012 - 1:26am -- hornedfox

Well after a few hiccups I have managed to make something I am happy about and I am willing to share.

I am not really new to bread making, I have been using a bread maker for years mainly with pre packed bread mixes. I have now been inspired to go all out for the artisan approach. I have been lucky enough to get a steam convection oven at a good price not getting any manual with it has not stop me going forward.

 Steam oven

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

I've been cooking Chad Robertson's Basic Country Bread for awhile with great success. Last week I was in San Francisco and decided to get a loaf of the real thing for comparison. This is not an experience for the faint of heart: you have to order 72 hours in advance, and it is literally impossible to find parking in the neighborhood at 5 pm which is the appointed time to pick up your loaf.

But, I persisted. And was surprised to discover the loaf currently offered out of the bakery is quite different than the recipe in the book--with a darker and moister crumb, and distinctively more sour.

I brought the loaf back to New York with me and after a bit of fiddling think I'm pretty close--actually as close as I'm going to get considering the differences in flours between East and West Coast. (I used KAF)

Here are the two loaves with Chad's on the right (what remained of a huge miche):

And here's a close up of the crumb (again, mine is on the left, theirs on the right)

I like the variation better and will be making it from now on. Here are the differences:

800 grams bread flour and 200 grams whole wheat flour (vs 900/100 in the recipe)

80% hydration (vs 75% in the recipe)

retarded 14 hours in refrig at 39 degrees F to increase sourness (and match the sourness of the loaf I purchased at the bakery).

msmarguet's picture
msmarguet

crackling country sister loaves

when these two batards crackled out of my oven they reminded me of my sister, marilyn, and me standing side-by-side in her kitchen over a pillowy-soft ooze of dough. i've been teaching her to make bread over the last 6 or 7 months.

. . . after 2 visits

• photos

• blog posts

• emails

• and back&forth sister chats 

• the result is the hand-over of my techniques to her, and a happy-homemade-bread-eating-khadr family.

kona sits in the kitchen with me every morning when i get up at my sister's to make the coffee and the bread. i think the khadrs should name the guest room the "patricia marie room" so that no one else gets too comfy in there.

on a recent visit to the bay, marilyn gave me the inspirational bread book from the legendary tartine bakery in san francisco, where chad robertson sells out of his bread everyday within one hour of opening. with chad's encouraging words, i adapted his basic country bread by mixing in my own experiences and techniques.

the crafting of my sister loaves 

(i always make two to share with friends and family) 

is the latest in my ongoing need to make bread.

this patty-cake starter is almost 2 years old. 

it smells like an over-ripe pear. it's milky, sweet and airy. 

i use it to make a leaven for my sister loaves based on the basic country bread recipe from tartine bakery.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread



Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread crumb


I made this following the recipe in the book. The whole wheat flour was freshly milled. The bread was delicious.


I always end up with a couple hundred grams of extra levain when I make the Basic Country Bread. I hate throwing it away, so, this week, I made a batch of baguettes with it. The 70% hydration dough was hand mixed and fermented for 2 hours with stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes, then fermented for another 90 minutes with stretch and folds on the board at 45 and 90 minutes. I retarded the dough in bulk overnight. This afternoon, I divided the dough, pre-shaped it and let it rest for an hour. Then, the baguettes were shaped, rolled on wet paper towels then in mixed seeds and proofed en couche for 45 minutes before baking at 450ºF for 20 minutes.



Seeded baguettes



Seeded baguette crumb


The flavor was very much like the Tartine Basic Country Bread except more sour. Very nice.


David

Franko's picture
Franko

 



 


Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread book has been getting a lot of attention on this forum of late so I decided to order a copy and see what it was all about. Mr Robertson's description of his journey to create the bread he had in his mind is a fascinating read and speaks to the dedication he has for his craft. While the book doesn't get into the same level of technical detail as Hamelman's 'Bread', it doesn't suffer for lack of clear and precise instruction, making it accessible to anyone interested in producing fine hand crafted breads, croissants, and brioche. Included is a chapter on various ways to use day old bread, which in itself is worth buying the book for, and one of the best collection of recipes I've seen for quite some time. Eric Wolfinger's excellent photography is found throughout the pages and adds significantly to the overall high quality of this book.


 


Chapter 1-Basic Country Bread describes in detail Mr Robertson's foundation formula and procedure for making the bread upon which all his other breads are based. Out of respect for copyright I wont share the formula here , but as Mr Robertson says, it is a simple process , and the formula is that of a basic levain style dough. It seems that this past weekend a few other TFL'rs decided to make this bread as well, notably David Snyder, who had wonderful results using Chad Robertson's technique of baking the bread in a dutch oven. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20473/basic-country-bread-quottartine-breadquot-baked-dutch-ovens


Never having used a pot for baking a loaf, I was intrigued by the photos in the book of the dark bold bake that this method can achieve, but as the recipe makes two loaves I decided to bake one in the pot and the other on the stone using Sylvia's method of steaming that's been so successful for her and other TFL members. I made the dough up by hand giving it a 45 minute autolyse and then a 3hr bulk ferment following the guidelines in the book for folding in the bowl, a technique I appreciate because of it's easy cleanup. The dough was divided into 955 gram portions, lightly rounded and rested for 20 minutes before final molding, then placed in floured bannetons for an overnight rise in the refrigerator. I would have liked to have done it all in one day but it was a 'work night' so my time was limited. After 19hrs of final cold rise the first loaf was slashed and placed in the lid of the dutch oven with a round of parchment beneath it, and the pot was placed on top of that. I thought this way would be easier than lowering the loaf into the pot with a lot of extra and unnecessary parchment paper. The oven and pot had been preheated to 500F for a good 40 minutes before the bake began, then turned down to 450F for the remainder of the 45 minute bake.


After 20 minutes the pot was lifted very carefully off the loaf and the loaf continued it's bake, finishing the crust and taking on a rich brown colour.




When the first loaf began it's bake I took the second one out of the fridge and let it warm up on top of the oven, so that by the time the first was out and my stone had heated for the second bake it was ready to go. Into the oven it went with Sylvia's towel steaming method in place and the vent blocked. I gave it as much steam as I possibly could during the first 10 minutes, spritzing regularly in 3-4 minute intervals. It didn't result in quite the jump that #1 had but it did bloom nicely along the slashes creating the type of pattern I've been trying to get on some previous bakes of other levain style breads.



Even with an 8 minute longer bake than #1 it just didn't take on the same kind of caramelization as the pot baked loaf. Still, I was happy with both results and I think both methods have their place depending on what your preferences are for a particular type of loaf. I'm not sure I'd use the pot with anything other than a very lean formula, as I think you might just get a little more colour than you were bargaining for, but for the Tartine basic Country Bread, and similar lean levain style breads it's a method I'll continue using.


Recently my wife Marie hinted that I might be getting a new mixer under the tree this year for Christmas since my KA is getting pretty long in the tooth, so to speak. Now I love new toys as much or even more than next person, so she was a little shocked when I told her that I've decided to start mixing bread by hand as often as possible from now on. It just makes sense to me that the breads that many of us are trying to emulate, are breads that have been around since long before the electric mixer appeared on the scene. I realize it's possible to mix these 'craft/artisan' breads with a mixer by controlling speed and mixing time, but for home baking it's become apparent to me that it's much more practical, and in most ways more satisfying to use the two best mixers I came equipped with. If I had any doubts about making this change they were put to rest when I cut into loaf #1.




 


This is the type of crumb that I want for my wheat based levain breads.... not exactly, but closer than I've come previously, which I think is due largely to the fact that this dough was worked even less intensively than I would normally do by hand. Why it took me so long to connect the dots that have been staring me in the face all this time, I believe is due to having been trained on mixers, and having used them throughout my professional career for bread mixing. Just goes to show that in baking, the learning never stops if you keep an open mind to the new ideas.. as well as the ancient tried and true methods of bread production.


 


Best Wishes,


Franko


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


I have made the Basic Country Bread from Chad Robertson's “Tartine Bread” twice before. (See: Tartine Basic Country Bread as Bâtards and Oven steaming using the SFBI method) However, I did not bake the loaves in the cast iron “cloche” that Robertson prescribes. I baked them on a pre-heated baking stone and used the SFBI oven steaming method or the "magic bowl" technique.


Caroline (“trailrunner” on TFL) recently blogged on Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain from Hamelman's “Bread” which she baked in Dutch Ovens – one cast iron and the other enameled cast iron. Her beautiful loaves finally pushed me to try this method with the Basic Country Bread. (See: David's Vermont SD w/ increased rye ---response to cast iron bake)


Caroline used an heirloom cast iron Dutch oven and a Le Creuset Dutch oven. There was no difference in her results. I decided to try a similar experiment with two other cloches: A 5 qt Copco enameled cast iron pot that was a wedding present (which means we've had it for going on 44 years) and a 4 qt Calphalon anodized aluminum all purpose pan.



Copco enameled cast iron on the left and Calphalon Anodized Aluminum Dutch Ovens


I made the dough according to Robertson's instructions. I followed Carolyn's well-described method for baking, except that I placed my cloches right on the oven rack, rather than on a baking stone.



Loaves uncovered after baking 20 minutes covered at 460ºF.


I baked the loaves for an additional 25 minutes after uncovering them to achieve the crust coloration seen below. I think I could have baked a bit longer to get as dark a crust as those in pictured in "Tartine Bread."



Loaf baked in Copco, on the left, and loaf baked in Calphalon, on the right


Both loaves had great oven spring and bloom. The one baked in the Copco oven had significantly great height, but I don't know whether this had anything to do with differences in thermal properties between the two "cloches" or simply reflects differences in their shape and/or volume. Certainly, there was no significant difference in the crust appearance.


The prolonged high heat did discolor the handles of the Calphalon pan. The Copco interior discolored quite a lot. I don't know if this was from the heat or, possibly, from the parchment paper. Anyone who can share experience with this would be appreciated.



The crust is staying crisp as the bread cools. The crumb is well aerated but less open than that of the bâtards I made. It is tender and has a lovely wheaty-sweet flavor with a mild but definite sourdough tang.


I must say I am very favorably impressed with the results of baking this bread in the Dutch ovens. I think the oven spring and bloom are remarkable and much more dramatic than what I have seen with baking on an oven stone covered with a stainless steel bowl. I'll have to try this technique with other breads, but trailrunner's results with the lower hydration Vermont Sourdough certainly suggest my experience will be repeated.


Thanks for the prompt, trailrunner!


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


Chad Robertson's Basic Country Bread from “Tartine Bread” has been a hit among TFL members, and with good reason. It's a wonderful bread, and Robertson's description of how to make it is clear and detailed. He not only describes what to do but also why. He provides variations on his procedures in recognition of the realities of the home baker's scheduling issues and describes their effects on the end product.


Robertson recommended a baking procedure that replicates the result of baking in a commercial gas oven for the home baker. His procedure utilizes a cast iron covered Dutch oven. This particular equipment dictates that the loaves be shaped as boules.


I have made Robertson's Basic Country Bread once before and found it delicious. Its most amazing virtue, to me, is how long it stays moist. I made 2 boules before. However, at the bakery, Robertson shapes this bread as bâtards.


Today, I made the Basic Country Bread as bâtards. They were proofed on a linen couche. The oven was steamed using the SFBI method I've described in another entry(Oven steaming using the SFBI method.). I baked, as prescribed by Robertson, at 450ºF but switched to a dry oven at 15 minutes and baked for a total of 35 minutes.




The crust was very firm initially and sang softly while cooling. It softened with cooling. The crumb was very open – as pictured in “Tartine Bread.” The aroma was very wheaty, and the flavor was very nice, with mild sourdough tang.


This is a bread I'll be making again, no doubt with variations in flour mix and steaming methods. I would like to get a bread whose crust stays crisp longer.


David


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


When I took the Artisan I workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute last August, Miyuki demonstrated the method of oven steaming they recommend for home bakers.


The oven is not pre-steamed (before loading the loaves). A cast iron skillet filled with steel pieces (nuts and bolts, rebar pieces) is pre-heated in the oven along with two baking stones. One stone is placed on a rack above the stone and rack on which the loaves will be loaded.


When the loaves are loaded, a perforated pie tin filled with ice cubes is set atop the skillet. As the ice melts, water drips through the perforations and turns to steam when it hits the metal pieces.



I had a hard time finding the perforated pie tins, so I hadn't been able to try this method until today. I did two bakes: One was two loaves of a very familiar bread – Hamelman's “Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain” from “Bread.” The other was a new bread to me - Chad Robertson's “Basic Country Bread” from “Tartine.” I made two large boules of the Country Bread. One was baked using the “Magic Bowl” technique and the other with the SFBI steaming method, minus the second baking stone and using lava rocks in place of metal pieces.


My current baking method is to pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with the baking stone and skillet in place. When I load my loaves, I turn down the oven to whatever temperature the recipe specifies, using the conventional bake setting. After 10-15 minutes (depending on the total length of the bake), I change the oven setting to convection bake but 25ºF lower. I find, in my oven, conventional baking retains steam well, but convection dries the crust better.


Using the SFBI steaming method, the Vermont Sourdoughs came out substantially similar to how they come out with my previous method – pouring boiling water over the lava rocks. I could not detect any difference in oven spring, bloom, crust color or the texture of either the crust or crumb.



Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain



Crust Crackles



Vermont SD with Increased Whole Grain crumb


The Basic Country Breads were different from each other. The one baked in under a stainless steel bowl was a bit shinier. The crust softened quicker with cooling. It did not sing when cooling. I don't think there was any real difference in oven spring or bloom.



Basic Country Bread baked with the "Magic Bowl" method



Basic Country Bread baked with the SFBI steaming method



Basic Country Bread crumb


My conclusion is that the SFBI method is effective. It does not require that water be boiled and poured into the hot skillet. To me, it seems a bit easier than the method I've been using. That said, the breads baked using the SFBI method for steaming the oven seem pretty much identical to those I get using my previous technique.


I don't have the kind of covered cast iron skillet/shallow dutch oven that Chad Robertson recommends be used to bake his Basic Country Bread. I do have enameled cast iron ovens that should perform similarly. Perhaps I should try one of them, although my expectation would be that they perform similarly to the "Magic Bowl" method.


David


 


 


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