The Farmhouse 'Boule'
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The ubiquitous Farmhouse Loaf.
It feels quite a while since I made a good old-fashioned yeasted loaf. Everything seems to be 'sourdough this' and 'sourdough that' these days.
Of course, strictly speaking, the Farmhouse loaf is baked in a tin and has slightly curved sides and top. It used to be batch-baked - the tins close up against each other so that the crusts touched and melded together. That way, you could pull a tray of Farmhouse out of the oven at one go, let them cool and then pull then apart for stacking.
That's how we made them back in the 1970s at Sunblest, now Allied Bakeries in Manchester and, later on, at the Castle Bakery in beautiful Beaumaris, on the Isle of Anglesey.
People would come into the shop and ask for a 'white batch' or a 'large farmhouse'. We knew what they meant.
It should be of a soft texture and be cut in thick slices. Whether it's for toast, or for sandwiches or simply as bread and butter with a pot of tea, it's a lovely satisfying bread.
I'm forming mine to back in a bread cloche. So, it'll be a boule rather than a tin loaf. I'm also baking two - so I've doubled the quantities below. (Of course, you can always bake a single or even scale it up for three....)
425 gms of strong white bread flour
75 gms of wholemeal bread flour
320 mls tepid water (preferably filtered or basic bottled still water)
22 gms dried milk powder
8 gms sea salt
8 gms demerera sugar
25 gms unsalted butter
5 gms instant dried yeast
If you're using a machine, add the flour and the salt to the pan and cover with the liquid. Leave to autolyse for fifteen minutes. Add the remainder of the ingredients and choose a Basic Dough programme (2hrs 20 minutes). The proceed to the next stage.
If you're mixing by hand or using a stand mixer, add the softened butter and the salt to the flour and mix thoroughly. Then add the remainder of the dry ingredients (except the yeast). Slowly add the liquid and then the yeast until you have a sticky mix. Turn the mix out onto a floured board and knead until you have a silky and pliable dough. (There are 'Help' videos and articles in the 'Useful Web and YouTube links' on the lefthand side of this page). Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave for an hour somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly-floured board and gently make it into a 'boule'
- Using the inner edges of your hand, cup around the dough and drag it gently towards you, gently encouraging the dough into a ball shape and also tensioning the outer surface of the dough.
- Repeat this four or five times before placing the dough into a suitable container.
- Place somewhere warm for one hour to allow it to expand to double the size.
- Preheat your oven to 180⁰C. If you're using a cloche, preheat the cloche.
- Gently score the bread.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Dust with all-purpose flour while it is still warm and it's on the cooling rack.
|The Farmhouse boule ready for final proofing|
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