I was actually a little intimidated when I first thought of making this bread. In case you've missed out, I have been baking my way through the cookbook: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This bread, which is on the cover of his book, mimics the bread Lionel Poilane made famous from his family recipe. We went to Paris and found one of Poilane's bakery in the St Germain district and were completely blown away by his breads. In fact, we were so excited when we smelled the aroma, we had eaten all of the bread and forgotten to take pictures. So, you can imagine the fear and the delight when I saw this recipe in the book and thought about recreating such an iconic delight. What I really loved about this recipe is that Peter goes into the explanation using "clear flour" which is not easy to obtain here in the States, but he says to sift the bran from whole wheat to get a similar product.Follow along on page 242 or you can find the recipe here.
Since I did not have any clear flour, I took the time to sift whole wheat flour into a bowl. I was actually amazed at how much bran was left behind, and almost felt guilty leaving it out. But, I knew I could save it for another application elsewhere.
Here is the firm sponge mixed with my starter:"Adam" and left to ferment for a few hours. I then refrigerated it overnight to retard slowly.
The next day I cut the starter blob into several pieces and waited about an hour to take the chill off. I then mixed the final dough ingredients along with the now room temp starter into a soft, pliable dough.
The dough should be tacky but not sticky. The dough was then left to rise until it doubled. For me this took about 5 hours or so.
After the dough had risen I then gently formed the dough into a free form boule to rise againtil it reached 1.5 times it's initial size,
Here is the risen dough slashed and ready to go into a preheated oven at 500 degrees. I used the spray method to create steam in the oven and reduced the oven temp to 450. After 25 mins, I then rotated the loaf and reduced the temp again to 425 degrees an baked until it was a deep golden brown. (about 30mins longer)
This bread tasted really wonderful. There was a lovely nutty flavor and yet the wheatiness was less apparent than in other whole wheat breads that I 'd baked. Of course to me, Poilane's bread in Paris was so much better-- but maybe that's because I was in Paris. Yeastspotted