Dan Leader calls this recipe Pain Normande, but it bothers me because the word pain is masculine, so the adjective for Normandy would not have an e at the end.
Anyway, a few weeks ago a friend of mine asked for recommendations for bread books that would be good for beginners. I wasn’t really sure, since I had mostly learned by trial and error. But I had heard good things about Dan Leader’s book, Bread Alone, on thefreshloaf.com. I decided to check it out. Book review to follow.
There was a lot to like about the book. Leader has a very specific voice, and he tells his story well. You can’t help but love his friend Basil, who introduces Leader to Parisian baking culture and puts him in touch with the LeFort family makers and repairers of the prized bread ovens. The pictures were great, if a little dated:
The recipes were really creative, and I tagged a few to make over the next few weeks:
And at the same time, he has straightforward recipes for breads made with commercial yeast, sourdough and baking soda. It’s a good cookbook for someone already familiar with baking.
I will say, though, that I had a hard time remembering the steps after I read them. For example, on the first page of the Pain Normande recipe, it says mix and knead the final dough.
And so, even though there were lots of words on the page after that, I just mixed everything together. Which was a problem, because you weren’t supposed to just mix everything together. The apples, in particular, shouldn’t have been added until after the second rise (there were four rises total, including the final proof). I dunno, sometimes it takes me a while to get in the rhythm of a baker who isn’t Peter Reinhart (see Preston Yancey’s Out of the House of Bread series).
Ok, now that I’m talking about the Pain Normande recipe, I should probably get to it.
The reason I chose this recipe as my first from Dan Leader’s book is because we have a glut of apple cider from our CSA and so I’ve been experimenting with replacing the water in bread with apple cider and having pretty lackluster results. I thought maybe there was something I was supposed to be doing to better incorporate it.
For two loaves, (or one loaf and two coronas!) you will need:
3 cups unfiltered apple cider, room temperature (my only gripe with this cookbook is it doesn’t include metric measurements!)
4 teaspoons commercial yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sea salt
5ish cups AP flour
2 cups (about 3 apples) cored, peeled and finely chopped apples. In retrospect I should’ve chopped them more finely. I think a dice would’ve been perfect.
So, since this is a recipe for how **I** did it, I’ll tell you how I did it. If you want to real recipe you can find the book.
- Start the night before you plan to bake this bread. Mix everything together. 2. Mix everything together, adding flour if necessary to form a ball of dough. Cover the bowl and let rise overnight.3. In the morning, punch the dough down and refrigerate it for five hours. Again, this is not what the recipe says, but I can’t read. 4. After the five hours of refrigeration, take the dough out, punch down and let rise an additional two to three hours on the counter. 5. Now is time to shape. I knew I wanted to make a corona (crown) shape with one of the loaves, so I divided the dough in half and shaped one half into a boule (ball) shape and chopped the other half into smaller pieces. I realized it was way too much dough for a single corona, so I made two. I shaped the pieces into balls and placed them in a circle on parchment paper. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the raw dough 😦
6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. For a corona, heat up a pizza stone. For a boule, heat up a cast iron dutch oven. Bake your corona for 15 minutes at 500 degrees F, and an additional 20 or so minutes at 375 degrees. For a boule, bake in a covered dutch oven for 15 minutes at 500 degrees F, drop the temperature down to 375 degrees for an additional 15 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a third 15 minutes.
And now, because I think it’s important to share my mistakes along with my successes, here is my boule:
What does it taste like? Not as much apple flavor as I would’ve thought. The dough smelled so much like apple pie while it was fermenting that I was excited it was going to be sweet, but it isn’t really at all. It tastes like a flavorful whole wheat bun with some apple chunks, which is good too. I tucked a coffee bean into one of the buns so some kid in my sunday school class is going to find it and get good luck in 2017.