Fourneau Bread Oven, and my very first batard
How long have I been writing this blog. Yeah, yeah, the hiatus. I know. BUT, how long have I been writing this blog and NO batard? Forever long, that's how long. I do have one crazy thing that I tried to call a batard posted somewhere. The name of the post might be 'bread fail', and it might be on my other blog the Tartine Bread Experiment. But today, dear reader, I give you batard, a real batard.
It's not so much the bread formula that matters here, rather, the shape of the thing and how I got there. Although I am including the formula below. It was a 'throw together' bread, but man did it come out smashingly, so, I'll share it with you (smile emoji).
UPDATE: Hey everyone! I have a code for you to use. If you want to purchase the oven, click here to go to Fourneau's site, and apply this code at checkout GMRFOURNEAU15 for 15% off your order. Woohoo!
OK, so, you all know how hard it is to make a batard. Your best shaping, your best intentions, and the thing puddles in the oven like nobody's business because you just can't get the steam situation worked out. And yo! I have tried it ALL, from lava rocks, to squirt bottles, to ice cubes in a hot pan, to hot wet towels. Every one of these 'methods' ended in horrible failure for me, some of them perilously so. Like, lava rocks? Seriously dangerous! You toss ice water on them and they sputter in your face and burn your eyelids, and to drive the point home, they snuff out the pilot light. Many a time have I reached my naked arm into the back of a 500 degree oven to relight it with images of the thing blowing up in my face, and always, always this ends with burned arms and knuckles and days of blisters and cold showers. Squirt bottles are just silly. Dozens of burned towels with the wadded-up-wet-towel situation, and ice cubes in a hot pan is tantamount to a chemical peel, but without the radiant skin results. And damned if I'm ruining my $300 Staub for a loaf of bread. I love you bread, but puhleeze.
I have been praying that someone, please dear cast iron gods, someone brilliant make up an oval combo cooker. In the height of a bread revolution, you would think, right? Someone? Anyone?
So round it is. Round. Round. ROUND loaves of bread! Again, bread, love ya, but damn I'm bored.
So one day I'm lying in bed, right, thinking of bread (of course), and in an unprovoked, angry fit I shouted 'someone has got to come up with an oval combo cooker!' I'm not kidding. It was a moment of out of the blue madness. I went online and typed in that very sentence, and what would happen? The sky opened up, that's what happened. The clouds parted, angels came tumbling out of the cosmos and handed me this beautiful cast iron gem:
Fourneau Bread Oven
OMG. Fourneau... will you marry me? I am on my knees in love.
I ordered my little oven (get yours here), got it Monday, and today, today I pulled out the most beautiful bread I have made in years. It kept the batard shape, as I hoped it would, the crust was sublime, the crumb was as wide open as the sky that this little beauty fell from, and it is as easy to work with as a simple combo cooker. Man alive. I want two. I want two so I can make twin loaves. Dear reader, this thing is the best thing that has happened to my bread life since my Komo mill.
The Fourneau crumb
I must admit, because I am so used to making les boules, my batard shaping skills are wanting. I did the best that I could, (heaven forbid I should simply open one of my 50 bread books to figure it out) but I promise I'll keep working on it so I can post prettier loaves with mirrored ends. Don't judge.
But back to my little oven.
Who is Fourneau? They are a dynamic duo who own Strand Design, a Chicago based company that crafts beautiful things using sustainably sourced and locally manufactured materials. They created Fourneau for us, the serious novices who bake bread, who know bread, and who have been longing for something like this forever. The first loaf I pulled from this contraption came out as perfectly as the batard of my dreams, and I would never have been able to make this without it. No more nights pining away for a $50K professional steam oven just so I can make a batard.
The Fourneau requires zero learning curve. It works just like the combo cooker, so you can seamlessly transition from round 😴 to batard 🤩 without having to take a quantum physics course first. You just pop it in the oven an hour before you plan to bake, load up your dough, close the little door, and the magic happens. If you don't already have one, you are going to need a genuine batard shaped banneton. No getting around it. It took me an hour to come up with something that would hold my dough properly, and I ended up sacrificing an old oblong tupperware container. Not sexy at all. And I almost took some fingers off slicing the ends of the thing open with an Xacto knife.
I have included links Fourneau's beautifully and simply designed website. I honestly cannot praise this device high enough. I got their 2.0 version, which comes with a plateau baking tray, silicone baking mat, and cast iron handle to keep your bottoms from going dark. But you really need to also get the wooden peel. Because it's bomb/super sexy. If you can, you should grab one before summer (honestly, you will want two, so if it's in your budget...), and please, please write me and tell me you've gotten it, and how your bread comes out. I have a feeling round 😖 combo cookers far and wide are going to be taking forced sabbaticals.
Here's the formula for my very first real batard. Hooray! My little Fourneau!
MAKE YOUR LEVAIN
For the levain, you will need
75g freshly milled whole wheat flour*
12g 100% hydration, 100% rye starter
Mix together your levain ingredients and ferment in a large enough bowl to hold tomorrow's dough. Mine fermented for 8 hours.
For the dough, you will need
All of the levain
74g freshly milled whole wheat flour**
10g kosher salt, I used Diamond
120g fontina cheese (use the real stuff), cubed
5g whole, fresh rosemary leaves
*You can use Bob's Red Mill Artisan, King Arthur All Purpose, or whatever bread flour you usually use. But Giusto's is the best. Just sayin'.
**I use Great River Milling Co.'s hard red spring wheat berries, but you can totally use whatever whole wheat flour you have on hand. It just won't be as good. Kidding.
When your levain is properly fermented, add the h2o and flours to the bowl holding it, and mix everything together until you reach a shaggy mass.
Autolyse for 1 hour 30 minutes. After the autolyse, squish the salt and rosemary into the dough until it's fully incorporated work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 3 hour 30 minute bulk fermentation. Here you will perform a series of turns every half-hour for the first hour and a half taking care not to deflate the dough. The last of these turns, you will fold in the cheese (photographed below). Leave it be for the final 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with some freshly milled brown rice flour. Shape into a loose batard. Let it rest on the bench for 10 minutes, then shape into a tight batard
Pop into a batard shaped banneton or some reasonable facsimile thereof, seam side up. Chuck it in the fridge and ferment. Mine went for 21 hours 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 with a Fourneau oven and baking stone inside.
Invert the banneton over a peel -- either the plateau baking tray with silicone baking mat, or the wood peel that you've purchased, which fits perfectly into the mouth of the Fourneau oven -- seam side down.
Slash the dough down its center. Slide it into Fourneau oven. Close the little iron door, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp. Then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.
After the steam, remove the little door from the Fourneau oven and bake out till a thermometer inserted into the center of the batard reads 210 degrees. You will have to toggle the heat between 425 and 450 degrees, depending on how much of your cheese oozed out. The cheese will burn quickly, so, you will have to err on the side of lower temp if you have major ooze.
Cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before slicing.
To the staff of life!
Squish the salt and rosemary into the dough.
encase the last of the cheese in a flap of dough so that it's all concealed within the dough.
(Feel free to contact me and chastise me about my unresearched batard shaping skills)
Pop into a well-floured banneton.
Shape and slash the dough.