V - Better Than Poilane!!..........?????????
In my second blog entry , I wrote that I baked three varieties of bread for my friend; WW bread (with right amount of salt!), cocoa-flavoured bread with cranberry & walnuts, and the other one. For the first two bread, I’ve already shared the formulae in my earlier blogs. So, today I’d like to share the recipe for the last one, which is actually the favourite of this friend I baked those breads for.
She’s my best and most trusted foodie friend for many years and my regular companion to Borough Market where we pay absurd price our pilgrimage occasionally to enjoy getting ripped off their wonderful (no editing here. They are really wonderful….most of the times) produce, not only from the British Isles but also from Continental Europe and more exotic places far afield. And every time we go there, we first bee-line to Neal’s Yard Dairy first to buy our favourite cheeses (their Colston Basset Stilton  is to die for and this relatively new Scottish blue is to kill for!) and a few loaves of bread from the selection which they sourced from several highly-regarded artisan bakeries in and around London. One of the breads we ALWAYS used to buy was, of course, THE famous(ly-overpriced) Poilane……until one day I conjured up the recipe of this ‘the other bread' (...Starting to sound like Harry Potter's 6th book...).
This formula came about quite accidentally during my still on-going project to re-creating a wonderful Pain de Campagne we had in Dijon, France, some years ago on holiday. The result was not quite what I was trying to achieve but nevertheless, it was quite good.
So, one day I baked it and took it to her house to see how she’d like it. We didn’t eat it then (we went out for a lunch) but I received email from her later that night, which said (in the gist...-ish) ; “The flavour! It’s so complex! And the crumb! Oh, the crumb!! Every time you bite into it, the flavour and aroma explode in your mouth and it lingers on for such a long time...I think you exceeded Poilane!”
Well…..I think she’s a bit over-enthusiastic (and too kind). I really don’t think I did exceed Poilane with that bread. Of course not. Nor will I ever do, for that matter. I don’t own their famous ‘a few hundred years old’ heritage levain to make my bread nor do I have absolutely ANY intention of living that long just to add extra value to my starter. And to be entirely honest, I’d rather pay for their expertise and hard work and buy the real McCoy than labouring in my humble kitchen to emulate their highly-priced prized bread. The depth of flavour and that uniquely distinctive and complex acidity Poilane is famous for is, I think, something very difficult to re-create at home, which this new bread of mine certainly did not have those to their extent.
But still, it is true it was quite good and I was rather chaffed about the result and, also, was very happy she really liked it so much. And precisely because it’s not as ‘assertive’ nor does it have that strong acidity as Poilane’s, it is a gentler and more accommodating company to your meals, and also very good as breakfast bread, either as it is or toasted.
So, since that day, she stopped buying Poilane’s or any bread from Borough Market entirely and started buying various breads from me whenever we get to meet each other. And we named this bread ‘faux-Poilane,’ which is always included in her order of breads. And since that day, it also joined my team of regular breads.
And here’s the formula. Hope you’ll like it as much as we do, too.
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‘Faux’ Poilane : My Dear Friend ‘YM’ ‘s Favourite
(To make a loaf = dough size about 650g)
S/D (75% hydration) 125g
Wheatgerm 1 tbls
Good quality sea salt 6g
Non-diastic malt powder 1 tsp, if you have
A tiny amount of instant dry yeast, less than 1/8 tsp (optional)
1. Feed S/D twice during 8-12 hr period before you start making the bread.
2. Mix all the flours, wheatgerm and malt powder (plus instant dry yeast, if using) in a large bowl.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix S/D and water to loosen S/D a little.
4. Pour S/D+water to the bowl of flours and mix briefly into shaggy mess. Cover and leave for 40 minutes to autolyse.
5. Sprinkle salt on the surface of the dough and S & F in the bowl for 20 times or so until salt is (probably) evenly distributed. Cover and Leave another 40-45 minutes.
6. Two more sets of S & F in the bowl (just 8-10 S&F this time, enough to circulate the bowl once) every 40-45 minutes.
7. Cover and cold retard for 12-18 hours.
8. Make sure there’re a few large bubbles on the surface of the dough after cold retard. Take it out from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1/2-1 hr.
9. Pre-shape and shape. Put in a bannetton and proof (Either at room temperature, which produces milder flavour, or in a fridge again for increased acidity)….until your trusted finger-poking test assures you the dough is ready.
10. Bake in a pre-heated covered pot (I use a lidded Pyrex casserole, upturned, which’s been very reliable…and you can enjoy watching the dough grows in volume!!) at 240 C for 20 minutes.
11. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
Note : As with many sourdough bread, it tastes good on the day it’s baked, but the flavour develops over next few days. My favourite is it’s on the third day.
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The pics above are of the loaf I bake for her, so obviously I don’t have the crumb shot. But I baked another one at the same time, and these are how it looked.
lumos @ no-camera-at-the-mo (My dauther took mine to Paris!!! Gahhhhh)