This Pain Rustique has become our daily bread
After baking hundreds of Pains Rustiques you could say this recipe of our version of this rustic bread has been tweaked to the max. Of course the tweaking has been done to accommodate our equipment and ingredients and above all our taste. And I believe that the end result also has a lot to do with the hands of the maker (watch Ed’s hands at work making Pain Rustique). Give six people the same recipe and they all come up with very different loaves. So like with all other recipes, you have to make this one your own. But I believe this recipe can be a good starting point.
The recipe is very loosely based on Hamelman’s Pain Rustique but can actually be seen as a hybrid, sometimes also called ‘levain-levure’. It has sourdough in the preferment and yeast in the final dough. This way you get the best of both worlds: the extra flavor of the sourdough and the ‘speed advantage’ of a yeast based bread. Another point of difference is the shaping. Pain rustique usually has no preshaping or final shaping. Our version does have shaping and the final fermentation is done in bannetons.
For this recipe we are going to make a starter named a poolish. A poolish is a type of wet sponge usually made with an equal weight of water and flour and an extremely small amount of yeast or sourdough culture and NO salt. Making a poolish helps bring more taste and strength to your bread while using less yeast.
Note: We use European flour which absorbs a few % less water than American type flour. People using this type of flour should add 3-8 ml water to the final dough. If you dare, you can actually make the dough a few percentages wetter to get bigger ‘holes’ in your crumb. We lowered the amount of water in this recipe to make the dough easier to handle. Currently we are baking this recipe with about 67.5% hydration; so we use 80g water per loaf in the final dough.
Making the poolish
In a bowl stir together 180 grams of bread flour, 45 grams of whole wheat flour with 225 grams of water at room temperature with 10 grams of sourdough culture. Mix it well until you have a homogeneous slurry that looks like very thick batter. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let the prefermenting begin. After 12 hours at room temperature it is ready for use. So if you want to begin your bread making in the morning, you make your poolish at 9 in the evening.
Our sourdough starter is not very sour by nature, it gives a very mellow sour note to the bread and we like it that way. We have found that the sourness depends on the ripeness of the poolish. This means that using an under-ripe poolish gives you the flavor advantages but not the added sourness. We tend to use the poolish before they peak out and collapse. When this points is reached all depends on ambient temperature and sourdough culture activity. An over-ripe poolish has a weaker gluten structure which will result in a weaker dough and less oven spring.
We use a sourdough culture which is made with 100% whole grain rye flour. A sourdough culture based on rye flour is easier to maintain, it does not go into a slurry when you forget about it, it is easier to stir because it has almost no gluten and it smells very very nice, a bit like fruit. It is also very forgiving in the amount you feed it. Normally we only feed it once a week, after the weekend baking, we just give it a few table spoons of water and rye flour, stir and ready!
If you want to make more than one loaf, just double or triple or quadruple the ingredients. We usually make 6 in one batch. That’s the maximum our bread mixer and oven can handle.
|Ingredients for the Poolish|
|180||g||wheat (bread) flour|
|45||g||whole wheat flour|
|225||g||water (room temperature)|
|Ingredients for the Pain Rustique|
|makes 1 loaf|
|the poolish from step 1|
|225||g||wheat (bread) flour|
Making the loaf
Preheat your oven to 235 ºC / 455 ºF (at what stage you preheat your oven depends on how long it takes for your oven to heat through, some take 30 minutes, some, like ours, with stone floors take a lot longer, up to two hours. The preparation time from this point until the bread actually goes into the oven is a little under 2.5 hours.
Ideally the temperature of your dough after mixing should be around 24-25 ºC / 75ºF. You should adjust the temperature of the water you add to reach this temperature of the total dough. For us this means in summer adding cold water to this recipe and in winter (when our little bakery can get much colder then the rest of our house) adding water up to 50ºC /122 F. You can measure the temperature of water and dough with a food thermometer. These measurements are important because they correspond with the proving times in the recipe.
Put the poolish starter and flour (no salt and yeast yet!) in the mixing bowl of your standing mixer and add 2/3 of the water. Now start mixing and gradually add the rest of the water and let the dough come together. Knead for only 1 minute until you have a shaggy mass (as Hamelman calls it). Leave it in your mixing bowl, cover and rest for 30 minutes. This process is called ‘autolyse’.
After the autolyse phase you now add the yeast and the salt and knead the mass for another 5 minutes (we use a spiral mixer for this job) and watch it turn into something a little bit more bread doughy. Cover and leave to rest for 40 minutes.
Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured work surface and do one stretch and fold (a full letter fold, left over right, right over left, bottom over top, top over bottom; see our bread movies to observe this technique if you are not familiar with it). Transfer to the bowl, cover and again leave to rest for 25 minutes.
Repeat the stretch and fold (full letter fold) part one more time (so 2 times in total) and again leave to rest for 25 minutes.
Now it’s time to shape. Shaping is a tricky subject. It’s something for which everybody develops his or her own technique over time. You can make a batard or loaf shape or a boule (ball). If necessary you can learn more on shaping from a good bread book, like the ones by Hamelman or Reinhart. We usually make batard shaped (oval) pains rustiques and use proving baskets/bannetons made of wicker.
Transfer the shaped dough in a proofing basket or baking pan, cover and leave to proof for 30 minutes. When you think it has risen enough, use your finger to carefully make a very small dent in the dough. If the dent remains, the bread is ready to bake, if the indentation disappears, the dough needs a little bit more time.
Now your loaf is ready for the oven. Slash the top of the loaf with a lame or bread scoring knife. To get a nice crust, try to create some steam in your oven by putting a small metal baking tray on your oven floor when you preheat the oven and pouring in half a cup of hot water immediately after putting the bread in the oven. Release some steam by setting your oven door ajar (perhaps with the help of a wooden spoon or oven mitt) 5 minutes before the bread is ready. If you are going to create steam with a baking tray, you maybe also want to turn your oven temperature a bit higher, because you are going to lose some heat in the process.
After 45 minutes of baking your loaf should be ready. Transfer onto a rack and leave to cool. This loaf also keeps very well in the freezer. But please make sure to eat at least some of it while fresh!
Pain rustique time table
day 1 21.00 h Make starter let ferment for 12 hours at room temperature
day 2 09.00 h Make final dough
- 09:00 h – Add flour and water to starter, mix for 1 minute
- 30 minutes autolyse
- 09:30 h – Add salt and yeast
- Knead for 5 minutes
- Rest for 40 minutes
- 10:15 h – First stretch and fold
- Rest for 25 minutes
- 10:40 h – Second stretch and fold
- Rest for 25 minutes
- 11:05 h – Shape
- 11:10 h Final proofing 30 minutes
- 11:40 h – Bake for 45 minutes at 235ºC / 455ºF
- 12:25 h – Your loaf is ready!
Note: If you like this type of hybrid method bread also check out the recipe for our Fluitje with Spelt