Boules de campagne

Here are some short notes by my friend, David Eastman, who has become quite the artisanal baker in Soda Springs, Idaho. He bakes sourdough bread.

I use dutch ovens in my standard electric kitchen oven.


I do not refrigerate, except in the summertime. I leave the dough overnight at room temperature or in the garage after the autolyse and two folds. In the morning, I do two more folds with 45 minutes between, then I place the [patons] in a banneton to proof for from 1 to 3 hours, being careful not to over-proof them. Then I prepare parchment paper while the ovens are pre-heating, tip the [patons] onto the paper, score and put them in the pots, give them a few spritzes and into the oven they go.


As for a lame, I use one of those tiny utility knives with a telescoping blade. I extend the blade all the way out and use as much of the blade as possible to score, not just the tip. The angle is very low but the score is quite deep. I also sharpen the blade every time I use it. To sharpen the knife, I use a two-sided diamond sharpening wand. Several strokes on each side of the blade on the course surface and the same on the fine surface. You need to practice to get the right angle.


I bake the loaves at 475° F for 20 minutes covered then about 10 minutes uncovered at 440°. Then I take them out of the dutch ovens and brown them, while checking their color every 3 to 5 minutes. I also place a sheet of aluminum foil on a rack below the dutch ovens to avoid blackening the bottoms of the [loaves].

I try to let the [loaves] cool down in the oven as it cools down, with the door slightly open. That gives it a crusty crust that takes longer to go limp.