Richard Bertinet’s White Dough

How to make Richard Bertinet’s white dough

This dough can be used to make several things: white bread, Fouggase, Puff Balls, Rolls, Breadsticks, Baquettes and Pain de Mie.

Rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips until it disappears into the flour. (I still haven’t figured out where to buy fresh yeast so I just rubbed in instant yeast and added 1 teaspoon of sugar, because the first time, my dough didn’t rise as well. Maybe it was just a cold day. I really don’t know why.)

Make a well in the centre, then add the water and salt into the well.

Hold he bowl with one hand and use a plastic dough scraper to mix, 2-3 minutes until a dough starts to form. After about 3 minutes the dough should look like thick sticky porridge. (I still don’t have a dough scraper so my spoon almost broke into two because the dough is quite gummy and difficult to stir.)

With the help of the rounded end of the scrapper, turn the dough onto the counter. The dough will feel very soft, sticky and moist but do not add more flour and do not flour the counter. Work the dough by stretching and folding to trap the air inside. It will be very sticky in the beginning but as you continue stretching and folding, it will come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands (you have to watch the video below to learn the technique).  Ideally it should take just 5 minutes to reach elasticity but for a beginner it may take 8-10 minutes.

This is the final dough after stretching and folding to trap air, for five minutes. The first time, it probably took me 13 minutes. I was exasperated.

Lightly flour the inside of the bowl and put the ball of dough in it. Cover with a lint-free towel or cling film or plastic bag and let the dough rest in a draft free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. This is the dough after resting for 1 hour. It was soft and elastic. As I said, this dough can be used to make several things: white bread, Fouggase, Puff Balls, Rolls, Breadsticks, Baquettes and Pain de Mie.

Please watch Richard Bertinet’s video below to see how to work the dough by hand.

Richard Bertinet's White Dough

Preparation time: 20 minutes; Resting time: 1 hour

Original Recipe: Dough: simple contemporay Bread by Richard Bertinet

Ingredients

  • 10g fresh yeast or 1½ teaspoons instant yeast or 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 625g (22oz, 5 cups) white bread flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt (I use 1½ teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional when using instant yeast)
  • 435g lukewarm water (1¾ cup + 1 tablespoon)

Important Point to Note:

  • The exact amount of water will vary by 1-3 tablespoons depending on the flour you use.
  • if you want to use more or less flour, then simply multiply the weight of the flour by 0.7 to get the amount of water you’ll need. For example 600g x 0.7 = 420ml (1¾ cup) or 700g x 0.7 = 490ml water (2 cups).

Instructions

  1. You can either mix this dough by hand using steps 2 and 3 or mix it using a stand mixer, using step 4. I mixed my dough by hand because I wanted to learn the slap, stretch and fold technique. (I have not yet used a mixer)
  2. Mixing the dough: rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips until it disappears into the flour. Make a well in the centre, then add the water and salt into the well. Hold the bowl with one hand and use a plastic dough scraper to mix, 2-3 minutes until a dough starts to form. After about 3 minutes the dough should look like thick sticky porridge. With the help of the rounded end of the scrapper, turn the dough onto the counter. The dough will feel very soft, sticky and moist but do not add more flour and do not flour the counter.
  3. Working the dough (kneading) by hand: work the dough by stretching and folding to trap the as much air as possible inside. It will be very sticky in the beginning but as you continue stretching and folding it will come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands (you have to watch the video to learn the technique). Ideally it should take just 5 minutes to reach elasticity. For a beginner it might take longer (about 8-10 minutes). The final dough should feel soft, light and elastic after the working process is over. Fold the dough into a ball as shown in the video. The dough is now ready to rest.(step 5)
  4. Using a mixer with dough hook: put the flour into the bowl of the stand mixer and rub in the yeast using your fingertips until it disappears into the flour. Switch the mixer onto the lowest speed and add the water and salt mix for 2 minutes, then turn up the next lowest speed and mix for another 6-7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured surface and form it into a ball.
  5. Resting the dough: lightly flour the inside of the bowl and put the ball of dough in it. Cover with a lint-free towel or cling film or plastic bag and let the dough rest in a draft free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. The dough is now ready to make the following: white bread, Fouggase, Puff Balls, Rolls, Breadsticks, Baquettes and Pain de Mie.
  6. For cup measures, spoon the flour into the cup, heaping it up over the top, then slide a knife across the top to level off the extra. Be careful not to shake or tap the cup to settle down the flour or you will have more than you need. I use a 240ml American cup

Points to Note

  1. Mr. Bertinet highly recommends that the ingredients be weighed, including the water. Use strong bread flour, preferably organic. In Canada all-purpose flour has 13% protein content so I just used the normal all-purpose flour here.
  2. This kind of dough results in a lighter, more airy and flavourful bread.
  3. Last updated: April 18, 2018

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General Tips for Making Bread Using Robert Bertinet’s Method 

  1. Use good quality hard-wheat flour (organic, stone ground and untreated, if possible)
  2. Use fresh yeast if possible and no need to add sugar and warm water to activate the yeast.
  3. To use fresh yeast, rub it into the flour using your fingers (the way you rub in butter).
  4. Water. use tap water at room temperature.
  5. Salt: use organic sea salt, if possible.
  6. Kneading the dough. Richard’s method is called working the dough, which essentially gets air and life into the dough.
  7. Resting the dough. it should take about 1 hour covered with lint-free dishtowel in a warm, draft-free place. During this time the dough rises to about double its size and develops flavour.
  8. Second rising: this will take about 1 hour. It’s done after the dough has been shaped into loaves or rolls and it should rise to just under or double its size.
  9. After the first rising the dough is not punched down, it’s gently removed from the bowl, turned upside down and the outside edges are folded on themselves a few times, pressing down each time and turning the dough around.
  10. Folding and pressing is also the technique used to mould the dough into different shapes.
  11. Ferment: some bakers use the term ‘levain’ which means a piece of dough that has been left 4-6 hours to “ferment’. This adds character, flavour and lightens the finished bread. A few of the breads use ‘poolish’ which is just the name for a particular style of ferment.
  12. Baking Bread: every time you bake, pre-heat the oven in advance, to 475ºF (250ºC), with the baking stone or heavy tray in it. Breads made with sweet dough should be preheated to 425ºF (220ºC). For some of the recipes you’ll need to turn the oven to a lower temperature just before you put the bread in the oven.
  13. Measuring ingredients: all ingredients should be weighed, if possible, including water (liquids).
  14. Incorporating ingredients: some recipes call for fruits, nuts or spices and these should be added at the end of working the dough (kneading the dough) either by hand or in a mixer. Always use good quality ingredients.
  15. To freeze the bread: partially bake the bread and cool it completely. Wrap with parchment and seal in a plastic food bag.
  16. Bread made from sweet dough should be fully baked before freezing. Defrost the bread at room temperature then reheat at 350ºF (180ºC)
  17. To bake frozen bread: put the bread in a cold oven and set to 400ºF and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the oven reaches the 400ºF temperature. If baking in an oven preheated to 400ºF, then bake 8-10 minutes.

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Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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