I’ve always been fascinated by how the different regions of France have managed to maintain their unique cultural identities. These regional identities can be evident even in the type and shape of the local bread. For example, in Auvergne, bread is often baked in the Auvergnat form, a shape that is evocative of a type of hat worn by residents of the region. In Beaucaire, bread is traditionally shaped through a folding process that is unique to the area.
I’ve always been intrigued by pain de Beaucaire, in part because so little has been written about it. One of the few mentions of the bread can be seen in Michel Suas’ Advanced Bread and Pastry. In addition to giving a formula for the bread, the book also gives a somewhat cryptic description of how to shape the loaves. Seeking further clarification, I contacted Brian Wood, an instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute and a contributing writer to Advanced Bread and Pastry. Brian was kind enough to take some time to speak with me over the phone about the shaping of pain de Beaucaire and to e-mail me with some further clarification. What follows below is a synthesis of what Brian related to me, along with some of my own ideas. By no means do I assert that what I am doing here represents an authentic traditional method.
- 65 g Whole Foods 365 Organic All-Purpose Flour
- 5 g Medium Rye Flour
- 55 g Water
- 55 g Starter (100% hydration)
- 455 g Whole Foods 365 Organic All-Purpose Flour
- 255 g Water
- ¼ Tsp. Instant Dried Yeast
- 10 g Salt
- 180 g Levain (all of the above)
- 100 g Water
- 20 g Flour
The evening before baking, the levain is prepared by mixing together the all-purpose flour, rye flour, water and mature starter. The mixture is allowed to ferment overnight at 70ºF until mature, about 8 hours.
The next morning, the water for the final dough and the levain are placed in the bowl of a stand mixer and the two are mixed at low speed using the whisk attachment until a thick homogeneous mixture is obtained. A combination of the flour, yeast and salt is then added to the bowl and mixing is continued on speed 2 using a spiral dough hook, just until incorporation, about 2-3 minutes. The bowl is then covered with plastic wrap and the contents allowed to rest for 20 minutes.
After the resting period, the dough is mixed using a spiral dough hook at speed 2 until medium dough development is achieved, about 10 minutes. The resulting dough is a fairly firm one, its firmness being the reason why a stand mixer was chosen over hand mixing in this case. The dough was then placed in a lightly oiled, covered container and allowed to ferment for 1 hour, halfway through which the dough was given a single, letter-like trifold. After the 1 hour fermentation period, the dough was stretched to a 1 inch thick rectangle and then allowed to rest for an additional 30 minutes. Using a rolling pin, the dough was then rolled into a 4 inch x 11 inch rectangle, covered with a flour/water slurry and shaped as follows:
After allowing the dough to proof on a couche for about 1½ hours at 74ºF, the dough was then transferred onto a peel, with the seam side up as shown:
The dough was loaded into the oven, seam side up, and baked at 450ºF for approximately 35 minutes, the first 15 minutes under steam.
This post referenced on YeastSpotting.