This week’s challenge was French bread, a lean bread without milk or fat. This formula called for a pâte fermentée which ultimately comprises 50% of the total dough mixture. According to Reinhart, this high level of “old dough” creates a sweeter, richer bread with a reddish gold caramelized crust.
I mixed up the pâte fermentée the night before, placed in the refrigerator overnight and allowed to thaw 1 hour prior to making the dough. After it thawed, I cut it up into pieces and added it to my mixing bowel.
Another interesting point to note with this formula is that half of the flour is bread flour while the other half is all purpose flour. The intention of using the mix of flour is to create a softer texture.
After fermentation, I shaped the dough into a baguette. First, I patted the dough into a rectangle and folded the dough into thirds like a letter. I then imprinted a crease in the middle of the dough with the side of my hand. I folded the dough in half and pressed the seam closed with the heel of my handle. Lastly, I rolled the dough into its desired length.
While the dough proofed for 45 minutes, I preheated the oven to 500 degrees and placed a filled water pan in the oven along with my baking stone.
After proofing was complete, took the stone out of the oven and transferred the dough to the baking stone. I did this by lifting the parchment paper (dough and all) off the jelly roll pan and onto the stone. I then rolled the paper out from underneath the dough. This did not go as smoothly as planned, so I am still in search of the perfect way to transfer dough from the proofing pan to the baking stone.
I slashed the dough with a serrated bread knife, which also didn’t go as well as planned. I really do need to purchase a lame! Lastly, I sprayed the dough with water.
After I placed the stone and bread into the oven, I turned the oven down to 450 degrees. The dough (I made 1 loaf out of ½ of the recipe) cooked for about 30 minutes to reach the internal temperature of 205 degrees.
My end product didn’t look very pretty but it had all of the flavor Rinehart promised – robust, tender and sweet. I also finally got a nice crispy crust! I brought the bread to our family Easter celebration and it barely lasted until dinner!