The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rose Levy Beranbaum's French Country Sourdough Boule

breadsong's picture

Rose Levy Beranbaum's French Country Sourdough Boule


Here are today's efforts (gifts for a friend, so I can't cut them to take a crumb shot!):
Rose Levy Beranbaum's French Country Sourdough Boule
Jeffrey Hamelman's Oatmeal Bread (straight dough)

Mr. Hamelman's Oatmeal Bread is delicious! But I wanted to make special mention of the French Country Sourdough - I really like the flavor provided by the combination of sour and flours in this loaf. The recipe is also spiked with instant yeast, so when I have planned poorly or am otherwise rushed for time and want to complete a sourdough loaf in a shorter timeframe, this is the recipe I turn to. 

Rose's original recipe was created for those without their own sourdough starter, and so calls for a powdered sourdough starter by Lalvain called "Pain de Campagne". Rose's formula for Liquid Sourdough Starter is:
100g bread flour
.4 grams Lalvain Pain de Campagne starter
100 g water, room temperature (70F-90F) 
Stir together for 3-5 minutes until very smooth (will be very liquid). Cover bowl tightly with greasted plastic wrap (or place starter in a 2-cup food-storage container with a lid) and place it in a warm spot (70F-90F); let sit for at least 12 and up to 20 hours. It will be full of bubbles and will have risen by about one third. It is ready to use to make the dough, or it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

I have substituted an equal amount of my sourdough starter and this has worked out OK. The formula below is identical to Rose's recipe, except for the type of starter and my adjustment to the amount of instant yeast used. The formula I use is:
200g sourdough starter
300g water
flours: 312g bread , 80g rye, 58g whole wheat
2g instant yeast
11.6g salt

I find this makes just over 2 pounds of dough - about right for my 9" banneton.

I feed my sourdough the night before, and when it is risen, I begin making the bread. As it is a very sticky dough, Rose's instructions are to combine starter and water in Kitchen Aid mixer bowl, sprinkle on the flours and yeast, mix on low (#2 speed) until a rough dough is formed, cover bowl and autolyse 20 minutes.

Sprinkle on salt and mix on medium (#4 speed) 10 minutes. (I found my mixer gets warm! so I stop a bit earlier, about 8 minutes. The weights given above are double her original recipe so I'm sure that's why my mixer is working hard!). I've also mixed and kneaded by hand, trying to be careful about adding too much extra flour (usually if I'm making two boules at once - too much dough for my Kitchen Aid to handle).

Scrape the dough into a greased dough-rising container; cover; rise until double (75F-80F), 1.5 to 2 hours. Stretch and fold (2 business letter turns). Rise until double (about 1 hour).

Shape into a boule. Line banneton with a floured cloth*, and place boule inside, smooth side down. Cover. Let rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour. When the dough is pressed gently with a fingertip, the depression should very slowly fill in. The center of the loaf should come to the top of the banneton sides or a little above.
*Alternatively, flour the banneton with 50% white rice flour/50% all-purpose flour. I found some good tips and really helpful information on preparing bannetons here:

Preheat oven to 475F one hour before baking, with baking stone on lowest level. Preheat a pan for steam.
Place parchment paper on a peel (or flat baking sheet). Place parchment-lined peel over banneton and gently invert banneton onto peel. Gently set peel on countertop, lift off banneton and gently remove the floured cloth. Slash the bread (1/4" deep), slide bread and parchment onto baking stone, steam the oven by pouring hot water or tossing ice cubes into the preheated steam pan.
Bake 5 minutes, and reduce heat to 450F. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bread is deep brown, 212F internal temperature. Remove bread to wire rack to cool completely.

With many thanks to Rose Levy Beranbaum, for her wonderful recipe and for granting permission to give formula and method details here.
Friends and family love this bread and if you make it, I hope you do too!

Regards, breadsong


wally's picture

I'm sure they'll be appreciated by your friend.


breadsong's picture

Thanks Larry - you were so nice to write. Happy baking to you!
Regards, breadsong

isobel gildon's picture
isobel gildon

Are you using a liquid starter ie 1 to1 to 1, or a firmer starter 1 to 2 to 1?

breadsong's picture

Hi, Thanks for your question - I use a 1:1 (liquid) starter. I guess I should have mentioned that in the first place! Regards, breadsong

evth's picture

Thanks for this post, breadsong. I'll look forward to making these.

breadsong's picture

I hope you like these breads...both kinds are very flavorful...and that Oatmeal bread smells amazing when it's done.   Regards, breadsong

jyslouey's picture

for taking the time to post the recipe of your Sourdough boule. Alas I am a novice at bread making and haven't quite attained a level where I can comfortably work with sourdough starters, what a pity as I often see pics of really gorgeous looking loaves but they're most made with a sourdough starter or poolish etc.  etc.