I made a nice loaf of bread at the weekend called a “Pain de Campagne”. It is a rustic country bread which improves with age and can be eaten for up to a week after baking.
The recipe I used I obtained from Ken Forkish’s book, “Flour Water Salt Yeast”. Ken Forkish left a corporate career to set up an artisan bakery in Portland, Oregon in 2001.
The recipe can be tweaked, as all recipes can, but the way I did it was as follows:
- Strong white flour 370g
- Wholemeal flour 60g
- Water 310g
- Salt 10g
- Instant dried yeast 1 g
- Sourdough starter 180g
I did a bulk fermentation for about 5 hours and ignored the advice to let it proof for 12 hours by only letting it proof for 7 or 8 hours in my fridge. The finished product looks great, although the extra time in the fridge for a full 12 hours proof would probably enhance the taste.
I don’t get too anal about my bread or sticking too rigidly to the recommended times because I will end up with a delicious loaf of bread anyway, most of the time, and there are so many variables involved in baking bread that adhering too strictly to a recipe or formula is not recommended.
Important factors that will vary from one kitchen to another will be the type of flour, the temperature, the type of water, the temperature of the water, your fridge, your oven, and so on.
The important thing is that I learn and understand the principles involved in making delicious bread, and this I am happy to do.
This little book of Ken Forkish’s is excellent value and I picked up mine on Amazon for my kindle for less than £4. Here is a link to it if you want to take a look.
One drawback to getting the Kindle version is the photographs will not be shown to their best effect on your Kindle. However, you can always get the Kindle app for a tablet device or PC and enjoy the full benefit of the beautiful colour pictures of various types of bread, along with the recipes.
It is nice to think that I can make a rustic, country bread in my kitchen on a bank holiday weekend in Ireland and know that a similar loaf of bread is being baked in small boulangeries all over France. It is even more pleasant to believe that the taste of my bread can stand comparison with the others, even though this may be slightly self-delusional.
Still, we are all entitled to dream..