La Couronne Bordelaise / Bordeaux Crown Sourdough Bread

I wanted to try this loaf from the moment I first saw it. I though to be a complicated one but I manage to get it from the first attempt. The special thing about this bread is not the crumb, not the rise but the shape. It is about rising a thin piece of dough on top of the bread to achieve the look of a crown.
This bread is called La couronne bordelaise (translated as the Crown of Bordeaux) and of course, it is a French regional bread that you will for sure remember. 
The crumb is expected to be dense and soft with a crunchy crumb, especially the "crown" part. 
When raising in the oven, to me it looked like a blooming flower, such an impressive sequence to see in a speed up video.
The look of this bread is simply wow. It has a simple recipe, traditionally made with white flour and a small part of rye or whole wheat. It is also traditional that this bread is based on sourdough.
The stencil decoration of this bread is optional, but I think it gives a big effect to the final look of the loaf.

To see how I made it, the best is to watch the video. If a photo says a thousands words, a video says a million.

I introduce now a new thing in my baking because this Christmas, Santa came to me with a geeky tool, a PH meter. Since then, I started to test the dough at every step and note everything down. I've read a lot about baking based on the PH rather than the volume increase in an aliquot jar or by eye and currently, I am in the learning process with this new toy. As soon I will have some conclusions I'll happily share them with you. But so far, I experiment. That's why, I included in the recipes some notes, and here it is how they need to be read: PH - the PH of the dough measured before the step. DT: the dough temperature at the time of the measurement. (eg:[PH:4.54; DT:23.8ºC])

One first lesson I learned is that the temperature that I set for my bread proofer is usually higher than the dough temperature. It is not an unexpected discovery, I measured the dough temperature before and I knew that. But this time, I have measurements at each step. It is interesting to see how the temperature fluctuates through different steps because of the dough manipulation at room temperature (usually 20-21ºC during the cold seasons). 

This loaf I baked it when the PH was 4.2. Seeing the crumb, I feel it could have been proofed more. No, this bread is not underproved because the crumb should be on purpose closed and soft. Then, due to the particularities of this bread of rising the disk on top of the bread, staying close to the under proofing limit, I think it is a good idea. But I will test this assumption with my next loaf.

I still have much to learn about PH, and for the moment I just keep track of the measurements and make notes.

 Ingredients: (65% hydration)


  1. [Day 1, Saturday, 8:30] 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 24ºC for 2 hours.
  3. [Day 1, Saturday, 10:30] Sourdough starter. Add the starter over the dough and knead with a standing mixer on a slow speed or by hand for 10 minutes. Ensure that the starter is well incorporated into the dough. Then, let the dough relax for 90 minutes. [PH:5.89; DT:21.8ºC]
  4. [Day 1, Saturday, 12:00] Salt. Sprinkle salt over the dough and knead again for 5 minutes. Then, let the dough relax for 90 minutes.  [PH:5.53; DT:22.4ºC]
  5. [Day 1, Saturday, 13:30] Stretch and Fold 1. Do a set of stretch and folds straight in the bowl.  Let the dough relax for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  [PH:5.32; DT:22.7ºC]
  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.  [PH:4.76; DT:24ºC]
  7. [Day 1, Saturday, 16:00] Divide and shape. The dough has 1250g in total. I divide 7 pieces of 150g and one of 200g that will form the disc. The big piece I flatten in a round disk and place it in the middle of the banneton over the bump (in my case this is the covered glass). Be sure there is a margin left on the bottom of the basket. I brush the border with oil. This is the part that will detach during the baking. Then, I shape the 7 balls and arrange them nicely around the centre, bottom-up, over the flattened dough. Then, with the dough cutter, I cut the flattened dough from the top of the glass and stretch it over the balls. Before placing the stretch strands, it is good to wet the dough on top so they glue well to the balls. I cover the basket with a linen towel and let the dough rise for 3 hours.  [PH:4.54; DT:23.8ºC]
  8. [Day 1, Saturday, 19:00] 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 it on the bread. 
  9. Bake them in the preheated oven at 250ºC on the hot stone/baking steel for 15 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.  [PH:4.20; DT:22ºC]
    After the first 15 minutes, I reduce the temperature to 220ºC and I continue to bake for 25 minutes more, without steam.
  10. [Day 1, Saturday, 19:40] Cool. The bread loaves need to cool for at least 2 hours until they reach room temperature. If you can resist, of course...
  11. [Day 1, Saturday, 21:40] Cut/Eat. Now is the big moment to enjoy this special French bread.


Unknown said...

Thanks you so much for this amazing recipe. I love the way you have a pictorial for the timing of the recipe. I haven't heard of using PH for dough and am intrigued. Would like to learn more about it. Happy baking, Christine

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