Last week I was asked to bake some white bread to accompany a soup at lunch time for a group of 33 people. At 5.30pm the evening before the day of the lunch, I mixed French T65 flour in four batches of 400g each and one in 300g. The dough would have about 12 hours and more, to slow ferment so that I could commence baking early next morning. I had to complete the baking by 11.00am.
Ingredients: (for each batch).
400g French T65 flour.
275g filtered water.
1/2 tsp dry yeast.
1 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt.
I am new to the French T65 flour, which I found requires less water than the flour from King Arthur or other local sources. The above proportions give a 68% hydration, which is just fine with handling and shaping the dough and which also produces lovely holes in the crumb.
Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly each batch in large bowls, and then pour in the measured amount of water. Mix the dough till the flour forms a sticky lump, and leave these covered till next morning. At the proper time, transfer a batch of dough on to a well floured mat and fold gently to form a ball. I proof-shaped each in banneton baskets leaving each for an hour and 15 minutes before transfering into the hot Dutch oven to bake at 240˚C. for 30 minutes. Remove the cover of the Dutch oven after 30 minutes and bake further for 15 minutes to brown the crust before transfering the loaf to cool on a rack.
Proofing in a plastic and natural rattan banneton basket: I have only one basket of each. I prefer the natural rattan cane banneton basket as the markings are definitely more prominent. I have only one Dutch oven, so I had to work out on paper the timing for the baking of each loaf ensuring that the different dough batches proof in sufficient time before going into the hot Dutch oven. I didn’t want to start all the dough proof-shaping at the same time as this would mean the second, third and fourth etc. would be over-proofed by the time it is ready to bake.
I managed to bake 5 loaves between 6.15 am when I got out of bed to start the process, and 11.00am, when the last loaf went on the cooling rack. The feed back I received was that the bread was “delicious” and “absolutely lovely”! I am sold on the French T65 flour. It definitely has more aroma and flavor and produces a crispy crust.
“I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?”
’Housekeeping In Old Virginia’ Marion Cabell Tyree ed. (1878)