My main motivation in making Pain de Beaucaire was that it could be completed in one day! I refreshed my starter early yesterday morning and made the levain for this bread from the discard. The bread took me only twelve hours to complete.
I broke off a piece of the finished loaf last night so I could taste it warm and was surprised by the prominent burst of sour on my upper palate.
This morning I had a closer inspection of these cooled, rough looking, free-form loaves. They have a someone soft texture and a medium crumb, and I liked the look of the vein of bran running through their middles! I toasted a piece for breakfast and was struck by how similar it tasted and looked to ciabatta--no surprise here really; this area of France is very close to Italy.
I think this bread is best served warm with a regional dish from southeastern France, e.g., coq au vin or a fish stew. I would make it again.
Named after Beaucaire, a region in Southeastern France, the Pain de Beaucaire is one of the first breads to be made "free-form" or not formally shaped. The bread is produced by placing two layers of dough on top of each other and then cutting with Râcle a Beaucaire, strips of dough that are baked side by side, giving this bread the unique appearance. Pain de Beaucaire was very popular until people started to prefer the lighter and crunchier baguette. However, this authentic regional bread is currently enjoying a resurgence as a new generation discovers its many appealing characteristics (Suas, p. 220).
I think a râcle a beaucaire is a type of pastry scraper.
2 3/8 oz. bread flour
1/8 oz. rye flour
2 1/2 oz. water
1 1/2 oz. stiff starter (50% hydration)
Mix all the ingredients until well incorporated (DDT of 70º). Allow to ferment 8 hours at room temperature (65º - 70º).
Final Dough Formula:
1 lb. 1/8 oz. bread flour
9 oz. water
1/8 tsp. instant yeast
1/8 oz. salt
6 1/2 oz. levain (all of the levain)
Mix water and levain with paddle attachment to soften up levain (about 1 minute). Mix remaining ingredients, except wheat bran, with paddle (1 minute), turn off mixer and let sit (5 minutes). Resume mixing with dough hook at speed 2 until dough has a medium consistency--window pane starts to form but breaks upon stretching (about 4-5 minutes). Put into an oiled, lidded container and bulk ferment at 75º for 1 1/2 hours. Shape into a ball and let rest 20 minutes. Make a paste of 1 tablespoon flour and 5 tablespoons of water. Pat ball out into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Cut rectangle in half both length- and cross-wise. Apply paste to rectangle and sprinkle with bran. Place one length-wise strip on top of the other, bran sides facing inward. Move loaves keeping bran seams horizontal to a couche and let proof 2 hours. Preheat oven with stone to 450º, remove loaves from couche and place on pan-sprayed parchment paper with bran seams vertical (seams will hold because they have been pasted together)--in other words, you bake the loafs sideways. Bake on stone for about 25 minutes.