The beauty of this blend is it not only creates an authentic boule (the traditional name for French bread shaped in a ball), but it also needs no electric mixer. Simply stir together, cover, and set aside to rise. Mixture can be punched down several times and left covered in a warm place for a couple of days or more. Or cover and refrigerate until ready to rise in a warm place. It’s foolproof!
Mix it up a little. With the increased grain varietals out there, substitute with a little einkhorn or farro flour. Start with 1/2 to 3/4 cup (125 to 180 mL). It’s all about adjusting your expectations from what you are most familiar with.
Store bread at room temperature in paper bag overwrapped in plastic for a couple of days. Or, for longer storage, freeze for up to a month. Remove from freezer and thaw before serving. Crisp up in 350 F (180 C) oven.
3 cups (750 mL) unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour, plus extra (See Tip box)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, or basil, or Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) coconut sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) kosher salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) quick-rise instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) water, at room temperature
2 tsp (10 ml) coarse cornmeal
Extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil, for greasing bowl
In large bowl, combine flour, herbs or Parmesan (if using), sugar, salt, and yeast. Stir to blend. Slowly stir in water until blended. Mixture will be very sticky. Generously coat large bowl with oil, such as olive or coconut, and transfer dough to greased bowl. Seal tightly with greased plastic wrap. Set aside in warm place to rest for 10 hours or overnight, until it’s tripled in bulk. If in a time crunch, dough can be punched down several times and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
Lightly dust counter with extra flour. With wooden spoon, stir dough, then turn out onto floured surface. Gently form into a ball. Dough will be quite loose and shaggy. Very generously dust fine-weave dish towel or large piece of pastry linen with flour. Transfer dough into centre and gently fold fabric to encase dough. Set aside to slightly rise for 1 1/2 hours.
An hour before ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Place Dutch oven or cast iron pan without lid in oven to preheat for at least 40 minutes before bread is ready to be baked.
When dough has risen, unfold from fabric. You may need to use a silicone scraper to peel from fabric. Scatter cornmeal into preheated Dutch oven and gently roll dough from fabric into very hot pan. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and cover with lid from Dutch oven or cast iron pan to tightly seal.
Bake bread in covered dish for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, until crust is nice and golden and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove pan from oven and immediately transfer bread to wire rack to cool.
Serve cut into thick slices with slices of grilled chicken, flavoured mayonnaise, and crisp lettuce. Alternatively, cut into chunks and serve for dipping into a cozy winter soup. Delicious toasted.