We are getting some snow in the mountains today and it is falling down in the most beautiful, fluffy flakes. I wish my camera took pictures fast enough to capture the snowfall. My brother was visiting this past weekend and with the warmer temperatures last week, there was a lot of snow melting. It felt like Spring! So it’s nice to see some new snow today.
I’ve made this bread twice in the last week. Every time I bake fresh bread, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. The process of making bread is such a soothing one to me. I like knowing that a few simple ingredients were formed into bread with my own hands. Of course nothing compares to the flavor of fresh baked, preservative-free bread either!
This white loaf bakes up with a nice crust, due to it being baked freestanding and without any kind of pan. It gets the name ‘boule’ by the round loaf it is shaped into. I brushed water on the outside of the risen dough before putting it in the oven to give it more crunch.
We first made this loaf for breakfast one morning and had warm, thick slices with European butter and freshly preserved marmalade. My boyfriend ordered a box of Seville oranges and we have been experimenting with them. I had never tasted a Seville orange before. They are sour oranges with the most aromatic, citrusy flavor. You definitely don’t want to eat them raw, but cooked into a marmalade they are incredible. The paper-thin citrus slices float in the orange jelly and taste delicious on any kind of baked good.
If there’s any interest I’ll post the recipes for the marmalade and the challah bread pictured with the boule as well.
One last note on this bread- after the first rise you can punch the dough down and refrigerate it overnight or for a few hours until you want to use it. Or you can simply shape it and let it rise a second time before baking. The nice thing about high altitude baking is that yeast breads take such little time to proof.
How to make this high-altitude adjusted recipe:
Country White Boule adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen
- 1 cup warm water (105-110 F)
- 1¾ teaspoons dry yeast
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- Activate the yeast by sprinkling it over the warm water in a medium-sized bowl.
- Let the yeast sit for about 5 minutes, until it is foamy and bubbling. This signals that the yeast is working.
- Add the flour, salt, and sugar. Gently mix together until a dough starts to form.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 10-12 minutes, adding a little extra flour here and there if needed.
- The dough will be ready when it is smooth, elastic, and forms a "gluten window".
- A "gluten window" is when a small piece of dough can be stretched between your fingers into a small square shape without tearing. It will be thin and you can almost see through the dough.
- Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl and turn once to coat.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for about 30 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and either refrigerate until you want to proceed with the recipe, or if you wish to continue, shape the dough into a small round ball- called a "boule".
- Place the ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with lightly buttered plastic wrap. Let the dough proof until doubled in size, about 30-35 minutes.
- When the dough has proofed, brush the top and sides of the boule with water.
- Using a sharp razor or knife, make two slashes in a cross pattern on the top of the dough.
- Preheat your oven to 365 F.
- Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until the outside and bottom are a golden brown and the boule sounds hollow when tapped.
- Enjoy warm, or once cooled, keep the bread airtight and enjoy it for as long as it manages to last.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, use an extra 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and account for longer proofing times with the dough.