Improving My Bread Baking Part 2: French Style Country Loaf

My second attempt at baking artisan loaves.

This time I tried a French style country loaf recipe by kingarthur.

I would say multigrain, French and rustic are my favorite types of bread. How about you? What’s yours?

This is the first time I’ve tried making a country style loaf at home…

Here’s how it went-

Again, I started with a sponge and let it rest over night (~12 hrs)


Here’s a close up of the top and bottom of the French style country loaves

The bottom has a nice brown crust but top still could use some improvement

Improving My Bread Baking Part 2 French Style Country Loaf |

Also the loaves are still a little flat and frisbee like 🙁

Improving My Bread Baking Part 2 French Style Country Loaf |


Here is the crumb.

Not dense, not super light, but somewhere in between. Not exactly big air holes there, but the texture was soft and slightly chewy.

Flavor was good and tastes just like you would think country loaf should taste!
Improving My Bread Baking Part 2 French Style Country Loaf |


The lessons I learned from this attempt were:

  1. Let the dough rise to the level that you think it should rise, rather than time.
    1. I went by time and should have let them sit a bit longer.
  2. Preheat your oven, at least 45 minutes or an hour if possible.
    1. I talked to King Arthur’s baking hotline again and they recommended I preheat my oven for at least an hour. What I’ve always been doing is throwing in my bread dough without more than 10-15 minutes preheating time. So that explains the weak crust on top!
  3. The other problem I had was the moisture content. Again!
    • I used the ‘as written’ amount of water and though my dough was less wet, it was still too sticky. I didn’t get a picture, but when it was done kneading I think I could have added maybe 2-3 Tbsp more additional bread flour (so in total 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp additional). The dough was sticking to the sides of my bowl way too much. But I didn’t realize it at the time, since I didn’t know what to look for or how it should feel.
  4. When shaping the dough, it should really hold it’s shape. Mine still pancaked out slightly, but not as drastically as the first time. Again related to moisture content.
  5. Bread slashes can be improved by using a large serrated bread knife, not a small one. And not being scared to go too deep, my cuts were too shallow.

Baking bread notes

  • I again used the falling oven technique starting at 475 and dropping down to 425.
  • I went a little lighter on the spraying water this time and the top crust was slightly better, but still not like the bottom. Inadequate oven preheating may also have played a role.
  • I think both too short of a second rise and not preheating correctly led to little or no rise once I put the dough in.
  • Another way I read to improve the crust is to leave the bread in the oven once it’s finished. You turn off the heat and leave the door cracked open 2″ or so. Has anyone tried that ?
  • Tip: spray your plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to the dough when it rises against it


What do you guys think!? Any other tips or suggestions?



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13 thoughts on “Improving My Bread Baking Part 2: French Style Country Loaf

  • April 5, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I think you aren’t letting the loaves rise enough before the oven. They should be quite plump and fully risen looking. The other thing I do (I heat the oven to the baking temp) is toss a quarter cup of water into the oven when I put the risen loaf in. It gives you a bit more rising time. The loaves look pretty darn tasty, if not plump!

    • April 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      thank you! totally agree on the risen look. do you just splash the water on the bottom of the hot oven right before putting in the dough?

  • April 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Baking of any sort is just NOT my cuppa but it is really interesting to see your learning process and to read about the techniques. Thank you for always interesting posts. Your closing line, “Sometimes even experienced bakers get a frisbee loaf.” , just makes me laugh in remembrance of the one or two times I tried to make just “plain” bread. That was in my youth of course. ~~dru~~

    ps. I’m a damn sucker for sour dough and very dark pumpernickle.

  • April 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Good work calling the hot line. You really have to go by your sense about the water and flour. It varies depending on the weather and how old the flour is. You are on the right track with your ideas for improvement. Sometimes even experienced bakers get a frisbee loaf.

    • April 5, 2017 at 8:17 am

      yes! that hotline is the best!! i am slowly learning and making progress!!


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