Tartine Country bread
(Note: copied from my actual blog)
This is actually my first attempt at the basic country bread from 'Tartine'  (with an exception, see note below). I read and re-read the sections on bulk-fermentation and shaping, until it was etched in my brain, sure not to mess it up. So, of i went...
3rd Test Formula - Basic Country Bread
900g Strong white bread flour
100g Wholemeal flour
Baker's percentage (of total formula, i.e. including the levain):
1,100 flour (100%)
800g water (73%)
20g salt (2%)
*Exceptional Note: I omitted the additional 50g of water asked for in the book (that goes in with the salt after autolyse), more out of caution than anything else. At this point I still didn't fully understand how British flour works compared to US equivalents, hence the hesitation. After having backed this bread again, and slowly mastering the shaping techniques described in the book, I have no qualms of re-incorporating more water into the recipe.
Method (this time with some more detail):
- Mix the levain with about 90% of the water, then add all the flour and mix well until the flour has absorbed all the water.
- Let the dough rest for about 30min. (autolyse stage)
- Add the remaining water with the salt and squish into the dough and incorporate well.
- Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled plastic container for the first stage of fermentation (bulk-fermentation stage). This is probably the most important part of the whole process. Give the dough time to rise and, with 'stretch and fold' turns every half an hour, time to develop strength. Take it easy on the turns after about the second hour (the dough needs a good 3.5-4hrs in total of bulk fermentation), as you don't want to destroy the wonderful work the CO2 is doing to give your crumb that nice open texture.
- After the last turn (of stretch and fold), let the dough rest for a further 30min. Now the dough is ready for the first shaping.
- Let the dough ooze out of the container and cut it into two equal-sized pieces. This is the trickiest part of the whole process, so listen carefully, je ne vais pas répéter deux fois, I won't repeat it twice.
- To avoid adding loads of flour into your wet sticky dough (and changing the formula as a result), cover the working area of the bench with either some odourless vegetable oil, or as I prefer to do, with olive oil. Do the same with your bench knife and make sure the surface is kept oily for the duration of the shaping process. Have a small bag of AP flour at hand for your other hand.
- Carefully pre-shape the doughs into balls and bench rest for about 30min.
- Now comes the final shaping. The special way of shaping the (almost) flat disc into a firm boule is illustrated clearly in the book, and involves multiple horizontal and vertical folds, so that, what eventually will be the outer top surface of the loaf, holds enough tension to keep its shape during the final prove in the fridge, and to spring nicely in the oven when ready to bake.
- Finally cover a proving basket or linen towel covered bowl with enough rice flour (works best for me) to avoid sticking, and swiftly and carefully transfer the round dough into the bowl.
- Prove in the fridge for 15-17hrs.
- The next day, pre-heat the oven as hot as it goes, i.e 250°C, with the dutch oven/combo cooker inside, for at least an hour.
- When ready to bake, flip the bread onto a baking paper covered oven peel or sheet, and quickly slash with lame or razor blade. Transfer into combo cooker and cover. Place back into oven and bake covered for 30min. Don't be tempted to uncover before that. Patience!
- Then uncover the lid, and put back into oven and back for a further 30min, until the crust is dark brown with some burnt edges.
- Let cool on wire rack.Et manger.