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La Marguerite d’Ardèche Sourdough Bread

I am a big fan of French regional bread because they are fantastic and so diverse. There is no chase on open crumb for them and I know a lot of people who would not choose an open crumb bread over a French one. Open crumb bread is a baker's pride (as it is hard to achieve) but it is not so popular between consumers. I've received a lot of comments indicating that they would choose a loaf without an ear and with a denser crumb so they can spread butter on it. It sounds ridiculous for a baker who always dreams about an open crumb, but there are a lot of people who love other types of bread.
French regional bread loaves are not open crumb with the exception of the famous baguettes. The rest are medium to close crumb and still no wonder they are so famous. They excel with other things like shape and flavour.

The dough of the French bread is usually denser with a low hydration. They count on a denser dough to get a natural structure without multiple sets of lamination, coil folds or stretch and folds. The shapes of regional French bread are super creative and they never cease to impress me. I plan to try more French regional bread shapes in the future.



Ingredients: (61.4% hydration)


Directions:

  1. [Day 1, Saturday, 8:00] Scaling. Start by measuring all ingredients.
  2. Immediately after,  Mix water + flours. Mix only the flours with water just until well combined. Do not knead at this stage, just ensure there is no unincorporated dry flour resting in the bowl and that's it. I use lukewarm water to speed up the fermentation. After the mix, I keep the dough at 23ºC.
  3. [Day 1, Saturday, 9:00] Sourdough starter. Add the starter over the dough and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes. Ensure that the starter is well incorporated into the dough. Then, let the dough relax for 1 hour.
  4. [Day 1, Saturday, 10:00] Salt. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead again for 5 minutes. Then, let the dough relax for 1 hour. I use an aliquot jar to measure/compare the volume increase. This means that I put 50g of dough in a straight small glass jar.  During the entire fermentation process, I keep the aliquot jar near the dough. Let the dough relax for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  5. [Day 1, Saturday, 12:30] Stretch and Fold 1. Do a set of stretch and folds straight in the bowl.  Let the dough relax for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  6. [Day 1, Saturday, 15:00] Stretch and Fold 2. Do a second set of stretch and folds straight in the mixer's bowl.  Let the dough relax for 1 hour.
  7. [Day 1, Saturday, 16:00] Divide and shape. When the dough in the aliquot jar indicates a rise of 60%, I divide the dough into 14 pieces. The dough has 1800g in total. 50g went already in the aliquot jar, so 1750/14 = 125g each ball. Then, I shape them and transfer onto a baking sheet arranging them in a shape of a flower (one in the middle that was decorated with poppy seeds and 6 around it). I let them rise until the dough in the aliquot jar reaches 110% volume increase.
  8. [Day 1, Saturday, 17:30] Decorate. This step is optional but I like to play with stencils on the bread. I sprinkle a mix of rice - white flour over a stencil put on the bread.
  9. [Day 1, Saturday, 17:30] Bake them in the preheated oven at 250ºC on the hot stone/baking steel for 25 minutes. For steaming, pour 200ml of hot water on the hot lava rocks to create steam. Close the oven door as quickly as possible to capture the steam inside. Be careful at this step as the hot steam can cause burns. As a trick, I use a teapot to pour water far from the hand. Because I bake them on 2 layers, after 15 minutes of baking I switch their place to ensure an even baking.
  10. [Day 1, Saturday, 17:55] Cool. The bread loaves need to cool for at least 2 hours until they reach room temperature. If you can resist not tasting one, of course...
  11. [Day 1, Saturday, 19:55] Cut/Eat. Now is the big moment to enjoy these beautiful flower bread loaves.

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