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 Oven
Pain de Compagne - Interior - Baked in Dutch Oven
Pain de Compagne - Exterior - Baked on parchment lined
baking sheet with steam
Pain de Compagne - Interior - Baked on parchment lined baking sheet with steam