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Pain Rustique

Recipe courtesy of Dana Ewart

This recipe makes 2-3 large loaves. For best results, prepare the poolish* a day in advance. It will give you better flavor development and a better quality dough. If making in one day, prove the poolish in a warm place until doubled in size – about 3-4 hours. 

Poolish*

350gm Organic all-purpose flour

500ml Water

1/4tsp Dried yeast 

Main dough

500gm Organic all-purpose flour

150ml water

½ tsp yeast

+ all of the poolish

 *What the heck is a Poolish?

Poolish is a highly fluid yeast-cultured dough. It’s a type of pre-ferment traditionally used in the production of French bakery products. A poolish resembles a sponge for the sponge and dough system. The difference is Poolish is fermented much longer and uses a much higher hydration than a plastic sponge—which is why it’s considered the liquid version of a sponge.

Day 1:

Mix the poolish together loosely in a bowl using a rubber spatula. Cover and allow to ferment overnight.

Day 2:

Mix the yeast, poolish and water together. 

Add the flour and mix until all of the water has hydrated the flour. Turn off the mixer and allow to rest (this is called autolyze) for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the salt and mix on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes. Continue to mix until the dough “slaps” the sides of the bowl (you’ll hear this), and is smooth and elastic. 

Place the dough in an oiled bowl or container and cover. Leave in a warm area. After 15 minutes, give the dough a 4-fold by gently lifting it up from from each ‘side’ of the bowl or container and folding it over the remaining dough. After 15 minutes, repeat this step. 

After the second folding, allow the dough to rest for 15-30 minutes, enough time that it doubles in size, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently flatten it out using your fingers, to about a 1.5-2 inch thickness. 

Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. After the 15-minute interval, gently stretch the dough by placing your hands underneath with the tops of your hands facing upwards, and tug it outward by about an inch on all sides. Repeat this step, including the interval, 2 more times. 

During the final rest, preheat your oven to 500F. Place a baking sheet or baking stone inside – this will be the tray you will use to bake your bread. Next, place a shallow casserole dish on the bottom of the oven and fill with about 1 inch of water. This is called a water bath. 

After the final stretch and rest, cut the dough into 2 or 3 rough rectangles. Gently lift onto a tray lined with baking parchment. Note: you may need to use more than one tray depending on the size of your oven. 

Now for the exciting part: moving quickly and wearing oven mitts, remove the hot tray from the preheated oven. Gently slide the loaves from the other tray by pulling the paper holding the loaves onto the hot tray. Quickly place in the oven. 

Bake the loaves for 5 minutes at 500F, then remove the water bath and reduce the temperature to 450F. Continue baking until the loaves are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. 

Enjoy!

These loaves are best consumed within 2 days but freeze really well too.