Homemade Boule Bread
Pain Boule Maison
Requiring a bit of an upper body workout, this homemade recipe for classic French boule bread is not for the culinary faint of heart. Although homemade boule is wonderfully worthy of the effort, we do recommend that if you’re pressed for time or not too keen on the idea of a kitchen strongman challenge, do be certain to have a dough kneading machine on hand for this bread making mission.
Boule or “ball” in English, is a rustic loaf of bread made either at home or at a French bakery, “boulangerie” by a baker known as a “boulanger”. Aside from morning tartine, boule is also a perfect substitute for English muffins – the typical bread used in recipes for Eggs Benedict.
So grab your apron and prepare to take the challenge!
2 cups organic white flour – all purpose unbleached
1 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/3 cup warm water
First Round of Kneading
•• In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 tsp of salt with 2 cups of organic unbleached flour. •• Using your hand or a small whisk, throughly mix the salt into the flour. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the yeast, the thoroughness of this foundational mixture acts as a block to any direct contact of the salt with the yeast. •• Create a “well” or “reservoir” within the center of your flour mixture. This is where you will introduce the yeast and water to the flour mixture. •• Prepare the yeast by mixing 2 tsp of dry active yeast with 1/4 cup of warm water. •• Allow the yeast to sit for a few minutes. •• Once you have observed that the yeast has doubled in volume, introduce into the flour “well” along with 1 1/3 cup of warm water. •• Using your hand, gently blend the flour mixture with the liquid yeast, forming a gooey paste of dough. •• Intermittently lift up the dough with your hand (which will be rather sticky) from the bowl. •• This repeated motion will allow oxygen into the dough, thereby creating elasticity. •• Continue this motion for approximately 5-7 minutes. •• Place the dough in a lightly floured medium sized bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth, taking care not to make any contact with the dough, thereby creating a containment of air. •• Keep the dough in a warm room or outside (if you happen to live in a warm climate) of 75-80° temperature. •• Allow the dough to rest and rise for approximately 30 minutes or if you observe the dough triples in volume. ••
Second Round of Kneading
•• For the second round of kneading, lightly sprinkle flour across your countertop workspace. •• Continue to knead the dough, using one hand of preference. •• In a motion of folding the dough upon itself, increase your speed and intensity, whereby creating a loud slapping sound of the dough (this is the workout part we promised you!). •• Using a silicone scrapper, gather back the displaced flour into your dough, as needed. •• Observe how the dough becomes more elastic and less gooey. You will also begin to feel an energy and a strength that the dough takes on. •• Continue this motion for another 8-10 minutes. •• Place the dough in a lightly floured medium sized bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth, again, not making any contact with the dough. •• Keep the dough outside or in a warm room of 75-80°. •• Allow the dough to rest and rise in the bowl for one hour. ••
Third Round of Kneading
•• Prepare to work the dough again by lightly dusting your countertop workspace. •• Begin again by releasing the gas from the dough, using your scraper to remove the dough from the bowl. •• If the dough still feels a bit gooey, sprinkle the dough with a little flour and also lightly dust your hands. •• Work the dough by gently stretching out and folding back, pulling in the displaced flour as needed. •• Repeat this motion just a few times and then form the dough into the shape of a boule or a half squashed ball. •• Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth, this time making contact with the dough and eliminating any containment of air. •• Store the dough in the refrigerator overnight and allow to ferment, a common practice used with making traditional French baguette. ••
The Next Morning
•• Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean countertop surface. •• Lightly dust your hands with flour and begin stretching and folding the dough just a few times, then re-create the shape of the boule. Observe that the dough should not appear dry. •• Place the dough on a lightly floured baking pan and cover with a clean kitchen cloth, again, making contact with the dough. •• Allow the dough to rest and rise for approximately 20 minutes. ••
•• Preheat the oven to 470° and place a plan of water in the oven in order to create humidity. •• Using a pastry brush and water, humidify the dough by brushing the dough with a small amount of water. •• Using a sharp knife, cut a large hashtag symbol # into the top surface of the dough. These cuts will allow the bread to rise and expand without breaking, while bringing forth the desired golden color of the baked bread. •• Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 470°, checking frequently for size and color. •• Remove the boule from the oven and allow to rest and cool, observing a further but minimal expansion of the bread. •• Want to know if your boule is ready? Give it a hard knock on the bottom as if you are knocking on a door. If your boule sounds hollow, that means it’s ready! ••