French Bread using pre-ferment

by Xinyu on 15th Jun, 2012

Posted by
Xinyu
Date:
15/06/2012
Tags:
baking bread

We've made a post on French bread before, but this time round the recipe is slightly more complex, making use of a pre-ferment to achieve a more complex flavour. As usual, the recipe is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This turned out to be one of the best breads we've made so far, in terms of taste.
The pre-ferment required for this bread is known as pâte fermentée (fermented dough), and is basically a batch of dough left to ferment in a slow controlled manner. You can make it up to 3 days beforehand, and just leave it in the fridge till you're ready to make the actual dough.

Pâte Fermentée

Ingredients:
  • 140g plain flour
  • 140g bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp (5g)salt(5g)
  • 1/2 tsp (1.5g)yeast(1.5g)
  • 170 - 200g water (at room temperature)
140g plain flour
['plain flour']
140g bread flour
['bread flour']
3/4 tsp (5g)salt(5g)
['salt']
1/2 tsp (1.5g)yeast(1.5g)
['yeast']
170 - 200g water (at room temperature)
['water']
Recipe:
Mix flours, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add 170g of water, and mix until dough forms. Add more water if necessary; the dough should have the consistency of regular bread dough.

Knead dough till smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl to rise for 1 hour or until it reaches around 1 1/2 times its original size.

Degas the dough lightly, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Keep for up to 3 days; a longer fermentation in the fridge tends to improve flavour.

French Bread

Ingredients:
  • Pâte fermentée (as above)
  • 140g plain flour
  • 140g bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp (5g)salt(5g)
  • 1/2 tsp (1.5g)yeast(1.5g)
  • 170 - 200g water, lukewarm
Pâte fermentée (as above)
[u'p\xe2te ferment\xe9e']
140g plain flour
['plain flour']
140g bread flour
['bread flour']
3/4 tsp (5g)salt(5g)
['salt']
1/2 tsp (1.5g)yeast(1.5g)
['yeast']
170 - 200g water, lukewarm
['water']
Recipe:
Remove the pâte fermentée from the fridge. Cut it into around 10 small pieces, then cover with a towel and let it sit for 1 hour.


Mix flours, salt, yeast and pâte fermentée pieces in a bowl. Add 170g of water, mixing till a dough forms. Adjust by adding flour or water if necessary.


Knead dough till smooth and elastic, and pâte fermentée pieces are fully integrated. Place in a bowl and rise for 2 hours, or until it doubles in size. If it doubles in size before 2 hours, gently degas and leave it to rise till it doubles in size again.


Shape the dough into whatever shape you wish (the recipe in the book divides it into three small baugettes), being gentle to make sure you don't degas the dough too much. Proof for 45 to 75 minutes, or until dough reaches 1 1/2 times its original size.


In the meantime, heat oven to 260°C (or as high as your oven can go). Once dough is ready, place into the oven and bake till bread is done, with an internal temperature of 96°C. The exact time depends on the shape of the bread; use your eyes and check frequently.


Remove loaves from the oven and leave to cool fully (at least 40 minutes) before slicing.
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