Makes 1 couronne
This ring or crown-shaped French loaf is a specialty of Lyon. It's quite simple to shape and is a beautiful crustier alternative to the classic boule (see photo).
1. Dust the surface of the flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. When a cohesive ball has formed, poke your thumbs through the center of the ball and gradually stretch the hole so that it will be large enough to stay open during the bread's oven-rise. This means that the hole will need to be about three times as wide as the wall of the ring.
2. Place the loaf on a pizza peel covered with whole wheat flour and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
3. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
4. Just before baking, dust the couronne with flour and slash radially, like spokes in a wheel (see color photo insert).
5. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
6. Allow the bread to cool before cutting or eating.
This page created January 2009
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