Paul Merry’s French Country Bread

Paul Merry’s French Country Bread

PPaul Merry's French Country Bread 001

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Title: Paul Merry’s French country bread
Categories: Bread, Leaven

Paul Merry's French Country Bread Paul Merry's French Country Bread


225 grams   Unbleached white bread flour, 2 cups
150 ml   Lukewarm water, 2/3 cup
375 grams   Unbleached white bread flour, 3 1/4 cups
250 ml   Lukewarm water, 1 cup
300 grams   Unbleached white bread flour, 2 1/2 cups
200 ml   Lukewarm water, scant 1 cup
450 grams   () bread flour, 4 cups unbleached white, whole-
      — wheat, spelt, or a combination
1 1/2 teasp.   Fine sea salt
300 ml   Lukewarm water, about 1 1/4 cups
1     Baking sheet, greased


978-1585741120 * Linda Collister
Country Breads of the World: Eighty-Eight of the World’s Best Recipes for Baking Bread *
ISBN 978-1585741120

  Edited *RK* 07/16/2007 by
  Ulrike Westphal


Make the sourdough starter:

Mix together the flour and water to a soft dough. Keep, covered with a damp dish towel (moistening as necessary), at room temperature for about 3 days until small bubbles appear, and there is a cidery whiff.

For the first refreshment, mix the flour and water with the starter and leave, covered as before, until sponge-like — about 24 hours. Measure 300 g (10 ounces) of the starter (discard the rest). Mix with the flour and water for the second refreshment to make a soft dough. If you are ready to make a loaf, cover the starter as before and keep at normal to warm room temperature until it puffed up – 3 -4 hours. If you are not going to hake, cover the bowl tightly and store it in the fridge. Then, when you wish to bake, remove the starter from the fridge, bring it hack to room temperature, and refresh as given for the second refreshment. To bake a loaf, measure 450 g (1 pound) of the refreshed puffed-up starter (keep the rest in the fridge for the next loaf). Mix the flour with the salt on a work surface and make a large well in the middle. Pour the water into the well and gradually draw some of the flour into the water to make a rough dough. Add the starter and work in, along with the rest of the flour; use your hands to gather up the floury mass to bring the ingredients together until you have a soft but not sticky dough, adding a little more water or flour as necessary.

Knead the dough very thoroughly for 10 minutes, pressing and stretching it on the work surface with the heel of your hand. Put the dough into a bowl, cover with a damp dish towel, and leave to rise until doubled in size. The time this takes will depend on the vigor of your starter and the room temperature, so allow 4 – 12 hours. Punch do wn the risen dough with your knuckles to deflate, then shape into a round or oval loaf. Put onto the prepared baking sheet (or into a basket or colander lined with a floured linen cloth) and cover as before, or slip the sheet or basket into a large plastic hag, tucking the ends under. Leave to rise once more until doubled in size 2- 4 hours.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F. If the dough has been risen in a basket, turn it out onto the baking sheet. Slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife or razor blade, then hake for about 35 minutes until the loaf turns a good brown and sounds hollow An tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

The bread is best eaten within 5 days, or toasted. Once thoroughly cooled, it can be frozen for up to a month.


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