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June 08, 2007

Gerard's Recipe

Gérard’s Country Bread

This is a simplified version of the bread Gérard makes in his bakery

For the poolish:
1⁄4 cup spelt and rye, ground from whole grains, sifted
1 2/3 cups of all-purpose white flour
1 2/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1⁄2 teaspoon dry commercial yeast

Mix ground spelt and rye in a bowl with all-purpose white flour. Mix in water and dry commercial yeast. Make sure the temperatures of the flour and water and the kitchen's air temperature are 80 degrees. Mix into a paste, put into a tightly covered tall plastic container, and let ferment for 6 to 8 hours at 65 degrees or 4 hours at 80 degrees.

For the dough
3 3⁄4 cups all-purpose white flour
1⁄4 cup ground rye and spelt, mixed (half of each)
2 3⁄4 cups water
2 tablespoons sea salt

Once the poolish has sat for the required time, combine all-purpose white flour with ground rye and spelt. Quickly mix in by hand all the water. Compact the mixture and cover with a plastic sheet. Let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes at 70 to 80 degrees.

Next, incorporate the poolish into the flour and water mixture, kneading for about 10 minutes. Make sure to just stretch the dough as you knead, rather than pulling or tearing it. When the surface is smooth and shiny, form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle the surface with sea salt and mix again for 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover with a clear plastic bag or lid. Let it rise for 1 hour at 70 degrees.

After 1 hour, punch the dough down. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, shape into balls, and let rise again, covered, for 30 minutes. Flatten to let the gas escape, round the dough into a baguette shape, and let it rise a third and final time for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Make four light slits in the surface, dust the surface with flour and place in preheated oven. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.


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Is that really the correct amount of water for that amount of flour in the dough?


I had the same question as Cindy. I had to add a lot more flour to make this recipe work. It did turn out fine, but I'm wondering what the real corrected recipe would be. Thanks


My kitchen aid can handle six cups of flour total so I've cut back on the water.

I've yet to get the large glossy voids in the bread that Gerard produces.

How can I learn directly from Monsieur Gerard?

In the meantime I'm working on copying and modifying. Could it be that there's a missing ingredient like glutten?



In regard in the amount of water in the recipe, it is correct, this baking method incorporates the idea that all the flour shoud be well Hydrated prior to mixing in the starter and completing the Kneading.Note the instruction after mixing flour and water "let the mixture sit for 30-40 minutes. Yes the dough is wetter than your average dough,but this is to be expected.
This recipe is based in the bread making theory of High Hydration. (Straight from one of Gerard's baking students)


I can't believe this comment has been let stand unanswered for 2 years! No bakers read this? The proportions are not correct. Full hydration calls for water:flour of 75-85% by weight. This recipe calls for something close to 130%, which isn't slack dough, it isn't even batter, it would be more like flour soup. Furthermore, salt seems to be 4% of flour, twice customary.
Poolish is generally equal parts water and flour by weight, not volume. Gérard, himself, though he calls it a poolish, uses a firm levain with hydration < 60%. The final dough hydration ends up close to 80%.

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