Pain de Beaucaire.... do a search on it... I"ll wait.... I want to give you a chance to see what it is really supposed to look like.
This is a sourdough bread that uses a stiff dough, and yet results in a crusty loaf with an open, airy interior that is typically associated with a very wet dough. I first saw two versions of this bread on Wild Yeast. One version used a levain as well as bran to cause the top of the bread to open up. The second recipe skips the levain, and uses sesame seeds to cause the bread to open.
While the dough of this bread is stiff, it is painted with a slurry of water and flour, which is then sandwiched between two layers of dough. Once the slurry is added, bran, whole wheat flour, corn meal, or seeds are sprinkled between the layers.
My first attempt, using flax seeds, did not open up.
I used bran on my second attempt, but I think I over compensated after my first attempt. I had a hard time keeping the two parts together, and while the dough split open, it flattened a bit.
However, the flavor is amazing. The results are a lot like Pain a l' Ancienne, which is a completely different formula. Next time I will try using less bran. And maybe less water in the dough (although my dough was really stiff.... don't want to kill my mixer!).
Pain de Beaucaire
325 g 100 % hydration sourdough starter that has been fed and allowed to mature within the last three days
730 g bread flour
25 g whole wheat flour
360 - 400 g water
1 T salt
For slurry: 10 g flour and 50 g water
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Begin by using 360 g of the water. Only add more water if needed to get a stiff dough. Mix on low/medium for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and flatten it into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.
Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, and place it back into the container, cover, and allow it to ferment for 90 minutes more.
Brush the dough with the slurry of flour and water. With a bench scraper, cut the dough into two 8 x 9 inch pieces. Sprinkle one half of the dough with the bran.
Place one half of the dough on top of the other half of the dough and cut the "sandwich" into three 8 x 3 inch strips.
Prepare your oven for hearth baking (pizza stone on the middle rack & a steam pan on the bottom rack), and preheat to 500 degrees. Bring one cup of water to a boil and fill a spray bottle with water.
When you are ready to bake, turn the loaves a quarter turn so they are seam side up, cut the parchment to make individual strips and move the loaves to the pizza stone.
Place the boiling water into the steam pan (cover the oven's window with a dish towel to protect it while pouring the water into the stream pan and then remove the towel) and close the oven door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven's walls with water. Do this every 30 seconds two more times. Reduce the oven's temperature to 450 degrees.
Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, until a golden brown, and the loaves register 200 degrees. Cool on a wire rack.
BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread) and inspired by the bread blog Hefe und mehr. (If only I knew German)