Pane Francese is the bastard lovechild of the baguette and the ciabatta, melding the best qualities of each iconic bread into rustic loaves. Shaped into long sticks like its French archetype, the crust-to-crumb ratio is maximized, making it a great accompaniment to rich soups and stews. The high hydration characteristic of the ciabatta, at 76% for all you bread nerds, gives pane Francese an airy crumb and irregular holes even with the addition of whole wheat flour.
While the pane Francese procedure of cutting dough into strips and stretching is less fussy than shaping traditional baguettes, the wet dough presents its own set of problems with handling and gluten development. Dough strength is achieved through a long fermentation time interspersed with stretching and folding, arguably the best technique to use for developing slack dough. Use small amounts of flour when stretching the dough on a counter, or better yet, watch Susan of Wild Yeast Blog do the same thing with less mess in a rectangular container.
Also known as pane di Como antico (Como bread of the past) in the Northern reaches of the boot, pane Francese exemplifies the shared borders and culinary traditions, with perhaps a bit of friendly rivalry, between France and Italy.
Pane di Como Antico o Pane Francese
Como Bread of the Past, French Bread
makes 3 pane Francese
Pane Francese crust.
For the Poolish (Prefermented Dough):
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams bread flour 3.625 103 water, at room temperature 3.625 103 instant yeast 1/8 tsp
Mix the poolish ingredients until evenly distributed and place in a covered bowl.
Let stand at room temperature for about 12 to 16 hours before using in the final dough.
Final Dough Formula:
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams all of the poolish (prefermented dough) bread flour 2 2/3 cups 11.875 336 whole wheat flour 1/2 cup 2.375 67 water 1 1/4 cups 10 284 instant yeast 1/4 tsp kosher salt 2 tsp .25 7
Final Dough Instructions:
Mix Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated Knead 6 to 8 minutes (the dough will be very sticky) Ferment #1 60 minutes at room temperature Stretch and Fold
Stretching and folding wet dough.
Step 1: Stretch into a rectangular shape.
Ferment #2 60 minutes at room temperature Stretch and Fold Ferment #3 60 minutes at room temperature Divide 3 pieces Rest 15 minutes at room temperature Shape Stretch gently into strips, about 16 inches long Preheat Oven 475ºF/246ºC Final Proof 30 minutes at room temperature Steam 1 cup of boiling water poured in a heavy steam pan (preferably cast iron) Bake Bake for 20 to 24 minutes at 475ºF/246ºC, rotating the loaves halfway if necessary. Cool At least 30 minutes
Pane Francese crumb.