I received a review copy of Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber who became a professional baker somewhat by accident. She began baking bread at home and developed a passion for it, eventually providing loaves for The Sonoma Mission Inn. Her second client was Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. Her bakery has grown substantially since then, but the artisanal process of bread making hasn’t changed. The book takes you by the hand and walks you through all the different types of bread Weber has baked at home and for the bakery over the years. The first chapters present Yeasted Breads and Enriched Bread before you get to the Pre-Fermented Breads and Naturally Leavened Breads. Last, there are Crackers, Breadsticks, Pizza Doughs, and Flatbreads. I want to make the Hot Dog Rolls because I’ve never made my own before, and the Sticky Buns look impossible to resist. I always mention that no matter how many books I read about baking bread, I always learn something new from each book. This time, I learned the technique of stuffing the dough with ingredients while shaping. There’s a Garlic Jack Campagne Boule made by spreading a garlic puree on the dough, topping that with grated Jack cheese, and then folding the dough up and around the fillings to shape the boule for proofing. Last, a hole is poked in the top of the boule and a small head of garlic is inserted into the loaf where it roasts as the loaf bakes. There’s a similar loaf made with a small bunch of grapes nestled in the top and grape leaves pressed on the surface. The loaves are beautiful and delicious-looking. I decided to attempt a loaf with a filling, and I chose the Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Campagne Boule.
Delightfully, I had some Meyer lemons from my tree and some rosemary from our permanent home to use for this. I pop over to our property (permanent home) where our new house is being built to snip herbs when I need them. The bread was made with sourdough starter, so I needed to revive mine to get it ready to use. In the book, it’s suggested that starter be fed with a mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. I used locally grown, whole grain-whole wheat flour from Richardson Farms. The dough was made with water, starter, and all-purpose flour. Weber makes a point of mentioning that water is a large percentage of all bread dough, and the water you use should be considered. If your tap water smells or tastes off, it could affect the bread. I used filtered water. After the resting or autolyse phase, salt was added to the dough, and it was left to ferment. This was a very wet dough, and I have my troubles with wet bread doughs. It was folded and turned every 30 minutes for the first hour and a half, and then it was left to rest for another two to three hours before being pre-shaped. Since it is a wet dough, the folding and turning isn’t as simple as it could be, but I did my best. Lemon zest was mixed with chopped rosemary and olive oil. The dough was pressed into a round and dimpled with a well in the center, and the lemon-rosemary mixture was poured into the well. The dough was then carefully gathered up and around the oil mixture, the seam was pressed to seal in the oil, and the dough was turned over and formed into a boule. You can see the oil mixture spread just under the surface of the boule. The boule went into a proofing basket for two to three hours before baking. Just after slashing the top, coarse sea salt was sprinkled on top. La Baleine coarse salt was recommended, and I actually had some on hand. The book includes instructions for baking on a stone or baking in a lidded cast iron pot. I wanted to bake on a stone but probably should have known better. Of course, the dough spread a bit more than I would have liked, and a cast iron pot would have given it more support. Regardless of how it was baked, the aroma of the lemon and rosemary from the oven was fantastic.
Adding the filling of lemon, rosemary, and olive oil was a new twist in bread making for me, and when I make sourdough breads, I usually use bread flour and a mix of other whole grain flours. Using only all-purpose flour resulted in an exceptionally tender and chewy crumb. And, the crust was crispy in the best way as a result of the oil. Even though the loaf flattened out more than I would have liked, the flavor of this bread more than made up for that small disappointment. This book has made me want to spend more time baking bread.
Meyer Lemon–Rosemary Campagne Boule
Excerpted with publisher’s permission from Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Ed Anderson.
Makes 1 large boule
This has become our signature bread. Lemon zest and finely chopped rosemary are mixed with olive oil to make a pesto-like slurry that appears as a bright and delicious swirl along the underside of the crust. But what really sets the bread apart is its raised crown design, studded with large salt crystals. Ed, my husband, tells everyone to eat this bread toasted with soft-boiled eggs. I love cutting thick slices of the bread and grilling them over low coals, or pulling it apart and eating it just as it is.
1 1/2 tablespoons (8 grams/0.3 ounce) grated lemon zest, preferably from Meyer lemons
1 1/2 tablespoons (6 grams/0.2 ounce) chopped rosemary
About 3 tablespoons (40 grams/1.5 ounces) olive oil
Pain de Campagne Boule, taken through the pre-shape
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons (4 to 6 grams/1.4 to 2 ounces) coarse sea salt (see Note)
1. Combine the lemon zest and rosemary in a small bowl. Add enough olive oil to create a pesto-like slurry.
2. After the 10-minute rest, turn the dough over (flour side against the work surface) and gently press into a 9- to 10-inch round. Dimple the top, make a well, and add the rosemary mixture to the well. Fold the sides in, as when forming a boule, enclosing the mixture, then tighten the boule against the work surface until you just begin to see the rosemary mixture under the surface of the dough.
3. Generously dust a 9-inch bread basket or linen-lined bowl with flour or a mixture of flour and wheat bran. Follow the remaining steps for proofing and baking the bread, and when ready to score, score it with a 4-scored asterisk. It will be because of the slurry underneath that the points raise into a crown as it bakes. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top.
Note on coarse sea salt
I prefer La Baleine coarse sea salt (in the red canister). The crystals are clear and shiny like diamonds, and they won’t melt.
Pain de Campagne Dough
Makes 1.35 kilograms/3 pounds
A request from Thomas Keller right after he reopened The French Laundry in 1995 got me into making pain de campagne. So I asked Thomas lots of questions. (How do you envision serving this bread? Do you like lots of crust? What shape would look best on your bread and butter plate?) In the end, I created the bread he was looking for. For Thomas, I shaped the dough into batards. Here we make both a batard and a boule.
Firm Starter 126 g - 4.4 oz - 1/2 cup
Water at 80°F/27°C 506 g - 17.8 oz - 2 cups plus 2 1/2 Tbsp
All-purpose flour 704 g - 24.8 oz - 5 cups
TOTAL FLOUR 704 g - 24.8 oz - 5 cups
Fine gray salt 19 g - 0.6 oz - 1 Tbsp
TOTAL WEIGHT 1,355 g/1.35 kg - 47.6 oz/3 lbs
1. Lightly oil or spray a deep 4 1/2- to 5-quart ceramic or glass bread bowl.
2. Put the starter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the water and mix on low speed until the starter is broken up and the mixture appears frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and pulse a few times on the lowest setting (to keep the flour from flying out of the bowl), then mix on low speed for 2 minutes to combine. Remove the paddle attachment, scraping any dough from the paddle back into the bowl with a plastic bowl scraper, and let sit, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the bowl scraper and add the salt. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 6 minutes. This is a slightly sticky dough. Using the bowl scraper, turn the dough into the bread bowl. Cover tightly with a lightly oiled or sprayed piece of plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
4. For the first fold, wet your hands, then loosen the dough from the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold it underneath itself from left to right and then top to bottom. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
5. For the second fold, repeat as for the first fold. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
6. For the third and final fold, repeat the folding as before. Cover and let proof in a warm, draft-free spot until there is bubbling on the surface of the dough, 2 to 3 hours.
7. The dough is ready to be pre-shaped and shaped for Meyer Lemon–Rosemary Campagne Boule.
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