Breton bread

breton_bread_crumb

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

10.OMNOMNOMNOM!

Breton bread dough

Breton bread dough

Proving the dough

Proving the dough

The finished loaves

The finished loaves

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Making sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this before. It’s about as easy as falling off a bike, but better for you. So here’s how I do it:

  • Get a food grade bucket, or if you’re really posh, get a sauerkraut fermentation vessel, or crock. I use a bucket which cost me about £3.
  • Thinly slice up some cabbage, with a mandolin if you’re not so keen on your fingers.
  • add some salt (For 2 cabbages I used about 2tbsp sea salt), mix it all up well  in the bucket, push it down flat. I like to add some caraway seeds in there too. I then put a couple of the outside leaves on top of the chopped cabbage.
  • put a plate, or other (sanitised) weight on top of the cabbage in the bucked to hold it down, make sure it’s all underneath the brine which will be produced after a few hours.
  • put the bucket in a coolish place , and wait. Check it the next day to make sure the cabbage is completely underwater. If there’s not enough natural brine created to submerge the cabbage, you can add a bit more brine.
  • taste it every now and then to see how it’s coming on. I leave mine for about 3 weeks so it’s nice and sour.
  • Once it tastes nice and sour – or how you like it (no hard and fast rules here) – put it into sterilised jars. You want the jars with a waxy inside lid. (how to sterilise jars)
  • optionally process the cans (with pop-up type lids) in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes. This video gives a quick overview of the canning process.
  • let the jars cool.
  • If the lids don’t go “pop”, they haven;t sealed properly and they’re only safe to be kept in the fridge, otherwise keep them on the shelf in the pantry.
  • eat the delicious, tangy sauerkraut at your leisure. Great with sausages and mustard!

It really is very tasty, cheap, and good for you.

Do it.

Here’s a shot of my fermentation bucket ready to put the weight on.

Soon to be sauerkraut in fermentation bucket

Soon to be sauerkraut in fermentation bucket