An Artisan French Bread Fusion

I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore A Country Cook’s Kitchen cookbook!  The author has done a tremendous job putting together timeless, rustic recipes from making artisanal breads, farm-house-style cheeses, preserving vegetables, curing meats, churning your own butter and soft cheese, baking cakes, pastries and biscuits…not too mention the page-turning arrays of heirloom, artisanal and organic food photography.  I am not a sponsor of this cookbook, nor any of the others I might have mentioned or will mention in the future–to make that clear, but my rule of thumb is, if I find something worth sharing…word of mouth is truly the key to do so.  Pay it forward, right?

Onward, one of the culinary skills I am trying to hone into is bread making, thus, whenever I post something on Instagram with regards to making bread, I immediately title it Bread-Making 101 because I am at the novice stage of baking.  You can only imagine the excitement I feel after peaking through the lit oven door and watching the development of the dough as it swells and rise before my eyes!  It was beyond exhilarating…

On the subject of fusion, well…it’s simple and has a defined rustic flair!  I merely tried the cookbook’s recommendation of experimenting with portions of whole wheat to white flour.  That is all!

Preparation 15 Minutes; Resting at least 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups organic unbleached white bread flour
  • 3 1/4 cups organic stone-ground whole wheat bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
    scant 3 cups water

Directions (for dough):

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flours and stir in the yeast and salt.
  2. Pour in three-quarters of the warm water and use a scraper to mix, adding the remaining water in one or two batches.  As soon as the dough come together and there is no loose flour in the bowl, turn the dough onto a clean surface to knead.  Scrubbed wood is ideal, but any smooth surface is fine.
  3. Gather together the dough using the scraper and without flouring the work surface, slide your fingers underneath it, leaving your thumb on top.  Pull the dough toward you, lifting your hand to stretch it.  Slap it down, throwing it away from you, then fold the dough remaining in your hands over the lower portion, trapping in air.  Repeat the action of lifting, stretching and folding for about 5 minutes until the mixture is no longer a sticky mess but into a dough that feels alive in your hands.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Shape it into a ball by bringing the edges to the middle, one at a time, and pressing them firmly into the center.  Turn the ball over and tuck it in.
  5. To rest the dough, lightly flour a bowl and put the dough into it, seam-side down.  Dust the top lightly to help prevent a skin from forming, cover it with a clean cloth and place somewhere warm and draft-free for about an hour or until it has doubled in volume.

Directions for baguette:

Shaping and Proofing-About 1 1/2 hours

Cooking- 10 to 12 minutes

Makes 8 baguette; flour to shape

  1. Lay a floured cloth on a baking sheet, pleating it into ridges and furrows that will hold the shaped baguette, keeping them separate and supported as they proof.  Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  2. Turn the risen dough gently out of its bowl onto a lightly floured work surface.
  3. Without knocking the air out of the dough, spread it into a rectangle.  Lift the side nearest to you to the center and press it down firmly.  Bring the side farthest from you to the center and press it firmly into place.  Now bring the two long edges together and press them firmly together.
  4. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Form each one into a ball and flour the top lightly.  Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread one ball of dough into a rectangle and repeat the shaping technique in Step 3.  The final seam will be the underside of the finished baguette.  Using both hands and as little flour as possible on the work surface, lightly roll the dough to lengthen it.  Carefully lay the shaped dough, seam-side up, into a furrow on the floured cloth.  Shape the remainder of the dough balls, dust them lightly with flour and cover.  Let them stand in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume–about 1 hour.
  6. Line a large flat baking sheet with parchment paper and flour it well.  Roll four lengths of risen dough onto the prepared sheet, using the cloth rather than your hands to maneuver them and space them out, seam-side down.  Slash each baguette with 5 to 6 diagonal cuts.
  7. Mist the oven to help form the loaves’ crust and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the loaves are golden and crisp.  This is bread you can eat straight from the oven as soon as it is cool enough to bite without burning your tongue 😉  Bon Appétit!gcc