I have had this recipe saved for quite some time and finally decided that it was time to make it. What finally spurred me on was a couple of other recipes I wanted to make that I figured I could use this bread with. It is a bread that takes quite awhile to make if you read through all the steps, there is three plus hours of mixing and rise time. Not including the time to make the sponge.
I followed the directions, for the most part, but made a few changes, most unintentional. The first was making the sponge. I misread the recipe that it called for bread flour and I used all purpose flour. Probably not that big of a deal in the sponge but it was a little frustrating that I was holding off finishing the recipe later in the day as I needed to go to the store to get more all purpose flour. But then I was able to figure it out and use the bread flour for the rest of the recipe. I also used instant yeast in the sponge as I had a partial package to use up. I made the sponge about 8:00 am and it sat for around six to eight hours before I made the rest of it.
For the rest of it, I used active yeast as I didn’t want to open another package of the instant yeast. I can’t say if using the two different types of yeast made a difference or not. It did say you could use both. I did let it rest for the 12 minutes to let the flour absorb the water. I did notice a difference in the texture as it sat and rested. Speaking of that, I weighed out one pound of bread flour for the initial mix. Once I got to kneading, I added more flour but didn’t measure it. I just added until I was satisfied.
For the first rise, I let it go close to the two hours although I peaked after about an hour and it was rising very well. I probably could have stopped it at that point. I then carefully deflated it and carefully shaped it into a ball. For the second rise, I did put two cookie sheets on top of each other (they were air bake sheets if you care to know). I liberally dusted the top sheet with cornmeal as I found out I was out of parchment paper. I didn’t want to risk it sticking to the sheet. It worked, I guess, but it made a mess with the cornmeal. Anyway, I let it rise for the 45 minute timeframe for the second rise, mostly due to the timing. I pushing having the bread be in the oven at 8:00 pm.
For baking, I baked it for the 30 minutes although I took it out just a few minutes early. I did not score it or dust it with flour, as you can see in the picture. Frankly, I was scared to do it. I didn’t want to risk deflating it. I do keep telling myself that if I am going to bake more and more bread I should spring for a professional lame but it just seems so expensive when I don’t thing the score affects it (or not) that much.
I think it turned out very well. It had a nice “chew” without being too dense. It tasted good and worked in making a few other things. I’m not sure though it it r ally turned out as it should have. It talks about this being a “French style” and how you have to deflate it gently so you don’t lose the air holes. Well, I don’t think my final product has a lot of large air holes and it doesn’t really resemble French bread. But, it works for me.