Source The Breads of France by Bernard Clayton Jr
Preparation Timeabout 5-6 hours
|2 tbsp||dry yeast|
|2 1/2 cups||cool water|
1. Place the 2 1/2 cups of in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and allow to become creamy, about 3-6 minutes. Add around 4 cups of the flour and stir slowly to mix. As the batter thickens you may stir more vigorously. You will now need to beat the batter very vigorously in the bowl for about 10 minutes. As you beat it the batter -- which will be sticky -- will begin to form a defined ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. After about 10 minutes of beating, dissolve the salt in the remaining 2 tsps of water and mix into the batter.
2. Add the remaining flour to the batter 1/2 cup at a time. Keep stirring until it becomes onerous and then begin to work the dough by hand. It will be sticky, so be sure to rub your hands in some flour. When the dough becomes a solid but shaggy ball turn it out the bowl and begin to knead it. Use an an aggressive push, turn and fold broken occasionally by slamming the dough down very hard. Knead for about 8 to 12 minutes. Make sure to keep sprinkling flour on your work surface and rubbing it on your hands to prevent sticking.
3. Place the bowl in a large greased bowl covered by plastic and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. It should more than treble in size.
4. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for a further 2 to 3 minutes to remove the air from it. Put it back in the bowl and cover it again. Allow it to rise for another hour and a half, it should treble its volume again.
5. Remove the light puffy dough from the bowl again and knead it for another few minutes to remove much of the air again. Divide it into as many pieces as you want loaves. I divided it into four loafs and got loaves roughly 6 inches in diameter. Allow the pieces to rest for about 5 minutes before shaping them. Shape the pieces into balls and place on a greased baking sheet.
6. Cover the balls with a cloth and allow them to rise for a further hour at room temperature.
7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a pan in the bottom of the oven while it is preheating. About 5 minutes before you place the loaves in the oven, pour a cup of water into the pan. Be careful not to burn yourself. Cut a tic tac toe pattern on top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Place on the oven's middle shelf.
The loaves are done when the top is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. It should be about 25 - 30 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!