Breton bread


Breton bread

Breton bread is a French loaf, from Brittany. I made this a while back, the recipe is from Richard Bertinet’s “Crust” book. It’s still the best bread I’ve ever made. Really chewy crust, nice crumb, great flavour, and it stayed fresh for ages. Here’s how I made it:

Make 2 large loaves.

For the ferment:

  • 10g fresh yeast (if you can find any, I used about 4g dried)
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 350g water

Mix together (yeast into flour first), work the dough, return to your lightly floured mixing bowl and cover with a teatowel, or plastic bag, whatever.

Leave at room temp for 6 hours, or for up to 48 hours in the fridge. I left mine for 48 hours, it had a bit of a crusty top, but there was roughly double the amount I needed for the loaves.

Bread method:

  • 15g Sel-gris (Sel-gris is a French, unrefined mineral rich sea-salt, grey in colour. I couldn’t get any so I used coarse Maldon sea salt)
  • 700g water
  • 750g strong white flour
  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • 50g dark rye flour
  • 300g fermented white dough (above)
  • 10g fresh yeast (or about 4g dry/easybake in my case)
  • a little flour for dusting, semolina for your peels if using one

1.Stick oven on at 250C, pop your baking stones, or whatever in there to heat up. I finally got around to trying my large piece of larvikite[1] which was from a friend’s kitchen sink cutting out. It didn’t explode – yay!

Larvikite baking stone

Larvikite baking stone

2.Dissolve the salt in some of the water, then mix all the ingredients (including the salt) in a large mixing bowl. When it comes together in the bowl, use a scraper to turn it out onto the UNFLOURED work surface. Work the dough with the french method (or at least try – here’s Richard Bertinet doing it properly)

3.lightly flour the bowl, form the dough into a ball, and cover with a cloth, leave it for 45 minutes. I left it an hour or so.

4.lightly flour the work surface, turn dough out and fold, forming into a ball as before, then rest as before, about another hour.

5.Cut dough in half, shape into 2 round loaves. Flour proving baskets (or if like me you don’t have any, use mixing bowls lined with cloths). Cover with a baking cloth, and leave for about 2 hours at room temp. Should be roughly 1.5 – 2x the size.

6.Dust peels with semolina (i used a flat baking tray, with flour), turn a loaf out onto each one. Slash the tops with a lame (or fillet knife in my case, the sharper the better)

7.Quickly open the oven door and generously spray inside of the oven with water. Slide the loaves onto the baking stones, spray quickly again, then close door.

8.Give them about 5 minutes at 250C (my oven only goes to 230C), then turn down to about 210C, and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Mine took about 40 minutes before they sounded hollow when tapped underneath.

9.Take them out and cool on wire racks


Breton bread dough

Breton bread dough

Proving the dough

Proving the dough

The finished loaves

The finished loaves

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