You like a good ciabatta and baguette? Then you will also like this French country bread made with sourdough starter!

It’s a perfect addition for a barbecue or a mild summer night that you spend outside. Add a good cheese and a glass of wine to it and you have the perfect meal.

Things to know before you start

Time Schedule

StepsWork timeWaiting time
Levain~5 minutes12-18 hours
Poolish~5 minutes12 hours
Autolyse~10 minutes30 minutes
Mix~10 minutes
Bulk Fermentation, Stretch & Fold~15 minutes2,5 hours
Shape~5 minutes
Proof30 minutes
Bake~5 minutes40 minutes
Cool1-2 hours

This French country bread will be ready to be eaten in 18 to 24 hours.

Total ingredients

WeightIngredient
15 gSourdough starter – Preferably from whole wheat flour
800 gAll-purpose flour
200 gWhole wheat flour
20 gSalt
10,2 gYeast – Fresh
650 gWater

You will have a dough of about 1695,2 g in total that will yield two loaves.

Difficulty

A moderate recipe for a great French country bread. We are going to handle 2 loaves at once and proof our loaves in a bakers couche, instead of a proofing basket.

Consider having a look at our recipe sourdough bread for beginners if you have never baked a sourdough bread before to get some insight.

Baking tools

Besides some of our should have baking tools you will need a bakers couche for the proofing phase.

Steps

1. Levain

WeightIngredient
15 gSourdough starter – Preferably from whole wheat flour
150 gAll-purpose flour
150 gWater – 40°C (104°F)
  • Mix your starter with the ingredients above
  • Store sealed for 3 to 4 hours at 28°C (82,4°F)
  • Afterwards store for another 6 to 12 hours at 5°C (41°F) in the refrigerator

2. Poolish

WeightIngredient
200 gWhole wheat flour
200 gWater – Cold
0,2 gYeast – Fresh
  • Same as in the first levain step, mix the ingredients above in a second bowl
  • Store sealed for 12 hours at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F)
  • In the bottom picture you can see our poolish (after 4 hours) on the left and our levain (after 18 hours) on the right

3. Autolyse

WeightIngredient
Levain
Poolish
650 gAll-purpose flour
300 gWater – 70°C (158°F)
  • Mix the ingredients above together with a sturdy spoon in a big bowl that you plan to use for the main mix step
  • Make sure that your dough doesn’t contain any flour lumps
  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel and store for 30 minutes at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F)

4. Mix

WeightIngredient
Autolyse
10 gYeast – Fresh
20 gSalt
  • Mix all of the mentioned ingredients together with a stand mixer for 5 minutes on speed level one
  • The dough shouldn’t stick too much to the bowl at the end of the mixing

5. Bulk Fermentation, Stretch & Fold

  • Cover the dough and let it rest for a total of 2,5 hours at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F)
  • During that time stretch & fold the dough every 30 minutes (3 times in total) and after the 3rd time let it ferment further for another hour until 2,5 hours in total are reached
  • Afterwards put it back to the bowl and cover it for one more hour so it doesn’t dry out

6. Shape

  • Take the dough out on a floured surface and divide it into 2 even pieces
  • Get each dough in shape by long moulding it
  • Tip: If your oven / baking stone is too small to fit both loaves at once, put the second dough piece in the bowl back, store it sealed in the refrigerator and do the next steps about 40 minutes later for the second dough

7. Proof

  • Spread your bakers couche out on the counter
  • Dust it with a decent amount of first clear flour
  • Put both of your previously shaped doughs seam-side-up on the bakers couche
  • Add some flour on top of the doughs
  • Cover them with the other half of the bakers couche
  • Let them proof for 30 minutes at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F)

8. SCORE

  • Cover a pizza peel with parchment paper
  • Gently put / role the loaves seam-side-down on the pizza peel
  • With a bread lame make one long flat cut lengthwise (about 2 to 3 cm deep) on top of each loaf

9. Bake

  • Preheat oven for ~45 minutes on 250°C (482°F) with the upper and lower heat function
  • Put the loaves in the oven, create steam and bake for 40 minutes
  • After 10 minutes lower the temperature to 230°C (446°F), let the steam out by opening the oven door for ~45 seconds and close it again

10. Cool

  • Let your French country breads cool for about 1 to 2 hours on some kind of grid

Conclusion

Crust

This french country bread has a nice crunchy crust with a powerful taste and a light layer of flour.

Crumb

Unlike the crunchy powerful taste, the crumb is mild and fluffy. It has fine and even pores and a pleasant humidity.

Taste

From the look and the taste, this bread reminds of a mix of ciabatta or baguette. Aromatic but still mild.

Goes good with

Wine and cheese, cold cuts, marmalade or honey.

Gallery

Summary
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Recipe Name
French Country Bread
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