The Fresh Loaf

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Pain de Compagne - Trouble in Compagne

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holds99's picture
holds99

Pain de Compagne - Trouble in Compagne

I recently purchased Daniel Leader's book: LOCAL BREADS.  After reviewing it I decided to try to bake Pain de Compagne (French Country Boule).  I doubled the recipe so I would be able to bake 2 large boules using 2 different baking methods: 1. Using a covered Dutch oven,  2. On a parchment lined baking pan with steam.  I wanted to see if there was any significant difference in the 2 baking methods.  Instead of making his liquid levain I used my sourdough starter to make a liquid levain starter and placed it in a covered plastic container.  I followed the recipe and left the levain starter out for 12 hours at room temp.  At the end of 12 hours the levain starter had not really kicked in the way it should have.  I decided to press on regardless.  I made the bread dough (water, wheat, rye and A.P - K.A. flour) by hand in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid.  It turned into a very dry ball that wouldn't absorb all the flour (I had scaled the flour).  So, I added a bit more water to get a ragged dough that I thought looked right and then I let it rest for 20 minutes per instructions.  When I went back to the dough in the K.A. bowl it was a SERIOUSLY hard, stiff dough (far stiffer than bagel dough).  About this time I was getting a feeling like... I was arranging the deck chairs on the Titantic.  Anyway, I mixed the salt into the, not so vivacious, levain and added it to the K.A. mixing bowl containing the rock of Gibraltar and turned the K.A. on low speed.  Thoughout the next ten minutes i would mix, stop the K.A., scape the dough off the dough hook, and repeat the process.  Finally I got it all mixed into a smooth, sticky dough.  I then spayed a gallon plastic container with cooking oil, placed the dough in the container, marked the outside of the container (top of the dough) with masking tape, put the top on and set it aside for the 2 1/2 to 3 hour rising time.  2 hours into the rising tme there was only about a 20% rise.  At this point it should be 75% risen (now I feel like I'm re-arranging the chairs on Titanic's deck).  So, I empty the dough onto the counter and examine it to see if it is fermenting.  The patient has some vital signs and pulse but at this point it doesn't look good.  I know if I don't take immediate action I may lose the patient. I spread the dough onto the work counter and stretched it into a large rectangle.  I sprinkled 1 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast over the entire surface of the dough.  I rolled the dough up and hand kneaded it for 10 minutes to evenly distribute the yeast, put it back into the plastic container, covered it and set it aside.  2 3/4 hours later it had doubled in volume.  I returned to the lightly floured work surface and divided it in half.  Shaped both halves into boules and place each in a heavily floured, linen lined banneton.  An hour ahead of baking I pre-heated the oven with the cast iron Dutch oven in it (sitting on the stone).  I placed one boule in the cast iron Dutch oven, covered it and put it into the oven.  I placed the other boule on the parchment lined baking pan and scored it.  After scoring, the boule started dropping fast so I immediately put it into the oven, dumped the ice cubes onto the tray under the stone.

Anyway, here are the photos of the results.  Both boules turn out fine, despite all MY problems, but the Dutch oven turned out the better of the 2 boules.  Incidentally, it tasted fine, light touch of sourness, good texture.

Pain de Compagne - Exterior - Baked in Dutch OvenPain de Compagne - Exterior - Baked in Dutch Oven

Pain de Compagne - Interior - Baked in Dutch OvenPain de Compagne - Interior - Baked in Dutch Oven

Pain de Compagne - Exterior - Baked on parchment lined baking sheet with steamPain de Compagne - Exterior - Baked on parchment lined

baking sheet with steam

Pain de Compagne - Interior - Baked on parchment lined baking sheet with steamPain de Compagne - Interior - Baked on parchment lined baking sheet with steam

Comments

ehanner's picture
ehanner

holds99, do I understand that you baked both of these at the same time? I wouldn't be able to do that in my oven. If you did, what happened is that the ice cooled the oven down and stunted the oven spring for the loaf on the pan. The covered dutch oven protected it's contents from the temperature reduction.

If they were baked one after the other, the one that fell after slashing was over proofed and, or, under developed. 

You did get nice crumb structure considering your thoughts on the starter activity.

I know there are some authors that suggest using ice cubes for steam but the physics involved I don't think support that method. Yes you do get a slow release of steam but at the price of cooling off the entire oven while the ice melts and then comes to a boil.

IMHO, any type of cover, (ss bowl, le cloche top, glass bowl, turkey roaster etc.) is way more effective for producing good spring and nice color. No steaming necessary.

Eric 

holds99's picture
holds99

Eric,

I baked them in 2 sessions.  First I baked the boule in the Dutch oven, then the boule on the sheet.  You are absolutely correct in your analysis.  The second loaf overproofed due to the wait time for the 1st loaf (Dutch oven) taking 50 minutes to bake.  I anticipated this problem (sort of) and placed the boule that was to be baked second in the fridge to retard it a bit (1/2 hour) but it still overproofed before I could get it into the oven.  Then perhaps the oven, after the heat was reduced for the final phase of the first loaf, had not come fully up to temp.  But I couldn't wait because I would have been in more trouble if I had waited.  Then, as you said, I threw in the ice cubes which further cooled the oven and exacerbated the problem.  From now on I'm going to take your suggestion and use warm water in the tray for steam and buy another Dutch oven so I can bake them simultaniously and won't have to play around trying to slow the process via retarding in the fridge.  The retarding in the fridge is just too much of a crap shoot and I lost the "roll" on that one.

I also completely agree with you about baking in a covered container (Dutch oven, la  cloche, le Crueset, etc.) I'm going out today and buy another matching cast iron Dutch oven/with lid so that I can bake 2 boules at the same time without worring about steam.  I checked and I can fit 2 of them in my oven with no problem.

Thanks so much for writing and giving me your analysis of my problem.  Your analysis was right-on.  I sincerely appreciate your input.

Howard

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm glad you are on the road to success. You probably know this but you won't need any water/steam if you are using covered pots or any other covered strategy. You also don't need a stone. Just don't place your pans on the bottom shelf.
I'll be looking for a photo of your two-fer.

Eric