French Couronne is a basic white bread, shaped like a giant doughnut. What makes it exceptionally brilliant is the fact that it is traditionally started with a Chef, better known to us as a Sourdough Starter. Most recipes will start you with instructions for starting your chef, but you can use the Sourdough Starter we have been using with great success in this recipe. I share the recipe with you and then end it with a lovely serving suggestion at the end.
We start by mixing the dry ingredients together: 3 cups White Bread Flour, 1,5 teaspoon (7,5 ml) salt and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add 1 cup (250 ml) cold water and 2,5 cups (625 ml) sourdough starter. Bring the dough together by mixing it.
Dust your counter with flour and knead the dough until it forms an elastic ball. Add either small amounts of flour (of the dough is too wet) or water (if the dough is too dry).
Place the dough ball in a bowl.
Cover with plastic and leave in a warm dry place to rise.
Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray and dust with flour.
Your dough will almost double in size in a couple of hours.
Spray a small bowl on the outside with non-stick spray.
Knock the dough down and knead for a few minutes to distribute the cultures evenly.
Make a hole in the middle and widen it around your finger.
Place the dough ring on the baking sheet.
Place the bowl in the hole to prevent the hole from closing once the dough starts rising again.
Cover with plastic and leave to rise.
Remove the bowl once risen.
Dust the dough with flour.
Make three or four cuts to the top of the dough.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 35 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when it is ready and you knock on it.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
As this is a rather tough bread, I suggest you cover the hot bread with a damp cloth to soften the crust.
Once the bread has cooled down, I cut the top off with a sharp bread knife.
I then mix a good dollop of margarine and garlic in a small bowl.
This is spread onto both sides of the bread.
I then pack a ring of tomatoes on the bottom ring.
I sprinkle the tomatoes with chopped up spring onions from the garden.
Some freshly ground Black Pepper follows.
Then follows a sprinkling of Italian herbs; Oregano, Sweet Basil and Parsley.
Add salt to taste.
Cover with grated Cheddar Cheese.
Put the lid back on.
Cover with foil.
Wrap the bread tightly to prevent it drying out in the oven. Bake in a preheated oven at 140°C for about 20-30 minutes, or until the aroma of garlic fills the house.
Unwrap and cool only enough to handle without scalding yourself.
Slice in big chunks and serve with hot soup.
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