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Breton Bread


A recipe from Crust - Richard Bertinet

The salt I use for this recipe is sel-gris from Brittany – as its name suggests, it looks quite grey and has a minerally taste. You need to dissolve it in a little of the water from the recipe before use because it is quite coarse.

Vanessa's baking notes: The recipe below comes from Richard Bertinet's excellent book, Crust. It uses a fermented dough which you need to make the night before you start the recipe. It is really easy: 3g fresh or dried yeast, 175g strong white flour, 3g salt and 125g water. Add all the ingredients together and mix well. Cover and leave in your fridge overnight until you are ready to proceed. If you don't have and can't find Sel-Gris, our Cornish Sea salt will make a suitable alternative.

Preparation: Ferment + 30 minutes Resting: 1.5 hours Proving: 1.5-2 hours Baking: 20–25 minutes Freezing: Freezes well fully baked. Defrost at room temperature.

Makes 2 large loaves

You will need

To prepare

Preheat the oven to 250ºC and put in 2 baking stones or baking trays, or one of each, to get good and hot.

You will need 2 proving baskets or bowls lined with baking cloths, and 2 peels or trays to load the loaves before putting them into the oven.

To make

  • Dissolve the salt in a little of the water and stir until the grains have disappeared. Mix together all the ingredients (including the salt) in a mixing bowl, using your scraper. When everything starts to come together into a dough, use your scraper to help you turn it out onto your work surface (don’t flour it first). Work the dough.
  • Lightly flour your work surface, and then form the dough into a ball. Put it back into your (lightly floured) mixing bowl, cover with a thick baking cloth and leave to rest for 45 minutes.
  • Lightly flour your work surface again, turn out the dough and fold. Form it into a ball once more and put it back into the bowl. Leave for another 45 minutes.
  • Cut the dough in half with your scraper and shape into 2 round loaves, forming into a ball. Flour your proving baskets well, put a ball of dough in each, cover with a baking cloth and leave to prove for 1.5–2 hours, until just under double in volume.
  • Dust your peels or trays with a little fine semolina and turn out a ball of dough onto each. Slash the top of each loaf with a lame or sharp blade. Open the oven door and quickly mist the inside of the oven with your water spray. Use the peels to slide the loaves onto your hot baking stones or trays, spray some more before quickly closing the oven door.
  • Set your timer for 5 minutes. After this time, turn down the heat to 210°C and bake for a further 15–20 minutes, until they are dark golden on top and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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