Friday, January 13, 2012

Gallette Persane Bread

The formula for these loaves came from from the 1978 edition of "The Breads of France" by Bernard Clayton, Jr. Mr. Clayton spent a lot of time during vacations in France visiting boulangeries in many sections of the country and interviewing their head bakers. Given the era, Mr Clayton's efforts must have been motivated out of love for good bread and not with an eye for profit or fame. The particular boulangerie that was credited with this formula was "La Petite Marquise", located near Place Victor Hugo, in the 16th arrondisement of Paris. The establishment at the time Mr Clayton visited promoted itself as what Americans would call an organic foods bakery.

I chose this bread as my first project from the book because I thought I could successfully convert the formula from volume measurement to metric weight and scale down the yield to two loaves. I did have some doubts about the formula in that Mr Clayton started with a preferment of 113% hydration that called for a package of dry yeast. The formula also called for a 24 hour period to develop the "starter" preferment. That caused a furrowing of my eyebrows but I figured that I needn't follow everything to the letter.

The starter is added to the same amounts of flour and water to create a sponge. The sponge is meant to sit at room temperature for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. Mr. Clayton obviously believed that time is the friend of flavor in bread.

Mr. Clayton wrote his instructions for mixing and kneading by hand. I decided to work with my mixer. All my ingredients for the dough, excepting the olive oil and salt, were folded into the sponge in my mixing bowl. Because the ambient room temperature in my kitchen was on the cool side, I added 1/4 tsp of ADY with the water. I used a brief mix to form the familiar shaggy mass. After a thirty minute rest, I added the salt and olive oil, mixing at first speed for three minutes to incorporate the ingredients then mixing at second speed for four more minutes. When the mixing was finished, I figured I had a reasonable dough for what I estimated to be a 77% hydration. This was all seat of the pants flying, as they say, and definitely not Mr. Clayton's directions.

Bulk fermentation was done in my new baking toy, a Cambro 4 liter container, that was sprayed with PAM and covered after adding my dough. The prescribed 1.25 hour period passed and the dough had doubled. So I turned it out, dividing it into two rounds. When a brief rest of 5 minutes was over, I shaped the dough by pressing the rounds with the heel of my hands into two 8" round by 1/2" thick loaves. The loaves were placed on parchment paper and covered with a flour dusted towel for the 40 minute proof. The oven was preheated to 425F.

At the end of the proof, I made four parallel slashes across the loaf and then made four more at a right angle to the first four. I loaded the loaves into the oven and baked at 425F for 40 minutes. The loaves were cooled on a wire rack. Mr. Clayton suggested that the bread be served by breaking the loaf along the cut lines.

This bread isn't quite a flat bread and not quite a focaccia. Stone ground whole wheat flour is 44% of the total flour so I didn't expect a wide open crumb. However, the WW flour is used in the starter and sponge so the bitterness that some associate with WW isn't very noticeable. The flavor is really agreeable. I managed to use only 3/4 tsp of active dry yeast for two loaves so I expect that the full formula shouldn't need more than a full teaspoon rather than the package Mr. Clayton dictated, YMMV of course. Mr. Clayton also said that the bread freezes well so I placed one loaf in a freezer bag to be saved for next weeks consumption.

After doing Bing and a Google searches, I haven't found any formulas for this bread on the internet. There are very few mentions so I'd like to share this formula in order to spread it around. By no means do I think it is in its final form, the formula still needs some tweaking. If anyone takes the time to work on this, I hope you'll leave a comment on my blog about your success or mishaps. The measurements are what I used for two loaves of about one pound or half a kilo each.

Starter
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
158g water at room temperature (70-75F)
140g stone ground whole wheat flour
Mix, cover, and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. If possible, use your mixer or mixing bowl for the first two steps as well as mixing your dough. The starter and sponge will expand. My starter was falling after 14 hours when I began the next step.

Sponge
158g water at room temperature
140g stone ground whole wheat flour.
Stir down starter, add water, stir in water and add flour. Stir until you have a thick batter, cover, and let mature at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours. Due to time constraints, I initiated the next step of mixing the dough after 8 hours.

Dough
All of sponge
7g kosher salt.
119g water
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
10g olive oil
18g wheat germ
233g all purpose flour

The birds have returned to our yard in numbers after the snow yesterday. European starlings have taken a liking to the suet feeder and have learned that they can land and perch on the feeder outside my window. It has a small plate of plastic on the bottom of the feeder to catch some of the seeds that the more enthusiastic eaters spray about. I've finally seen a junco learn about perching at that same feeder, a first for me, but so far the juncos haven't caught on to perching on the thistle seed feeder. That should be only a matter of time before they catch on.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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