A colleague confessed that he doesn’t bake because it isn’t practical. I thought about it and he is right, but that is the very same reason why I love baking. Because baking isn’t necessary, it doesn’t feel like an obligation, it’s more fun. Both cooking and baking are creative activities, but another reason why I choose baking is that you bake one thing, it’s done, it’s not a sum of parts like dinner (a salad, main and side). Also, the product of baking lasts longer, it doesn’t necessarily need to be eaten straight away and it’s easier to take photos. Baking is always special even when it is something as basic as bread. I try more recipes of bread lately. James’s book is still amazing (I told you about when we talked about the foccacia), that’s the first book I take my way through and bake every second recipe. All of them turn out amazing.
Pain de Provence was a total surprise for me. I like herbs, but not in excess. Herbes de Provence is Tomek’s love, but I find them often too strong, they often overwhelm the dish, but in this recipe even though there are 3 tablespoons of them, the bread tastes amazing (I will add 4 next time). It is aromatic, but not too much and it actually goes well with everything.
Pain de Provence
- 400g strong white flour
- 100g wholemeal flour
- 7g (2 tsp) fast-action yeast
- 10g (1 1/2 tsp) salt
- 3-4 Tbsp dried herbs de Provence
- 350g tepid water
- 2-4 Tbsp orange liqueur like Cointreau
In a large bowl place the flours. With your fingers rub in the yeast on one side and the salt on the opposite (yeast get killed in contact with salt). Add the dried herbs de Provence, water, and orange liqueur and stir it with a wooden spoon until everything combines nicely. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and let it rest for 30 minutes until it rises a little.
Knead it until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). You can use a stand mixer as well. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and let it rest for a 1-1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in size.
After the dough has rested turn out the dough into a lightly floured surface and form it into the ball. Put into the floured basket or a bowl covered with floured tea towel. Leave it for an hour to rise or until it doubles in size.
At least 40 minutes before you plan to bake, place a cast iron pan and preheat the oven to 240°C.
Turn the temperature down to 210°C. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured wooden board and score it with a serrated knife or razor blade. Slide it into the heated pan gently. Bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. Then with the lid off for 10-15 more minutes or until golden. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool the baked bread on the cooling rack.