The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French Bread

fredsambo's picture

French Bread

Well I finally went ahead and signed up, I have been a reader for quite some time. I am a professional baker by trade, but love to mess around in my conventional kitchen as well. I needed some old dough for my next adventure, so I decided to make a nice straight yeasted bread. I also noticed that some of the bakers cover the loaves in the oven to simulate injected steam, so I decided to try it!


The formula for the dough is pretty simple and based on Joe Ortiz's Direct-Method Compagnon:


1/4 ounce active dry yeast


1 3/4 cups cold tap water


3 2/3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour


1 3/4 teaspoons salt


I mixed the yeast with a little bit of warm water and then poured the rest of the water into the wet mixture. After adding two cups of the flour, using my Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer, I mixed with the paddle on first speed for two minutes. Then added the salt and the rest of the flour, graduating to the hook. Then I mixed on first speed until the flour was somewhat incorporated, and then 12 - 15 minutes on 2nd speed. The doulgh was velvity and somewhat slack when it came off the mixer.

Next I cut three small pieces out and shaped them into little boules. I set all three boules in the fridge, in glass bowls, coverd with plastic wrap.


About four and a half hours later I grabbed two of the boules from the fridge (the other is my old dough for tomorrow), flattened and reshaped them, and then covered them with a cloth, on a floured board, for about 45 minutes to an hour.


I scored them and put them right on the stone in my oven at 450 degrees, covered by a large cooking pot. I prepped this "cover" by pouring hot water out of it right before I put it in the oven, being careful not to touch the boules with the cover. After 12 minutes I carefully removed the cover and then baked them for another 15-17 minutes.


So here is the result:




I am pretty happy with the look of the crust, the crumb is dense as I expected from such a short proof time. Overall it is dense and chewy but with zero taste:



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Fred.

Welcome to TFL!

That's a pretty boule. You remarked on the short proof. I'm more struck by the lack of any bulk fermentation. If I read your procedure correctly, you divided and shaped the dough immediately after mixing and refrigerated the pieces. I think the lack of bulk fermentation is responsible for the dense crumb and probably didn't provide the best possible flavor also.

With most doughs, even with high-gluten flour and high hydration, I would not think 12-15 minutes of mixing on Speed 2 would be necessary. It would also make a more uniform crumb.

Now, you're the professional, and I mostly bake with sourdoughs, so maybe I missed something.


Janedo's picture

Hello and welcome aboard! Lovely loaf. Big holes are a pain with big, round boules, but that's my opinion. I used to buy them like that and make smoke salmon "tartines" with a fromage frais, cucumber herb base. I hated when there were holes!

I'm very curious about your next project. What is it?


fredsambo's picture



Yeah, I was totally expirimenting and was shocked that those little boules didn't completely blow out. The flavor was, um, non-existant! Definately needs more rest. LOL.


Also, I am a professional at work, but hardly at home!


My next project is a country style french bread with old dough addition, but I need to go buy some rye flour. I plan on using a more traditional approach this time. ;-)

rainbowbrown's picture

The color on that thing is beautiful. I've got to try the bowl cover method.

foolishpoolish's picture


That golden crust with crackling is exactly what I've been after for a while.  I must, likewise, try the 'bowl cover' method (something I've not beeen able to do before becuase of height restriction in the top oven).



fredsambo's picture

Just be sure that the cover sets completely flush with the stone, otherwise you'll get leakage.


Didn't have time to bake today , but I'll be doing the next round tomorrow with a MUCH longer firmentation time!  Hopefully I'll be able to replicate the crust!