Water (use lukewarm water when the weather is cold)
Put all the ingredients including the dry yeast in a bread machine and start the "dough kneading" program. Take it out 6 minutes in.
Round off the dough, place on a baking sheet lined with kitchen parchment paper, and leave for the first rising. Use your oven's "bread rising" setting set to 30°C for 60 minutes.
The 1st rising is done if the dough has doubled in volume, and if a hole made with your finger does not fill back in.
Punch the dough down to deflate it using your palms. Round off the dough again, and place it seam side down covered with plastic and a tightly wrung out moistened kitchen towel. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
As you wait for the dough to finish resting, dust your banneton (bread rising mold) with bread flour using a tea strainer.
After the dough has rested, slap it down again lightly with your palms, round it off again and place in the banneton with the seam side up.
The 2nd rising. Use your oven's "bread rising" setting at 30°C for 50 minutes. When the dough has finished rising, start preheating the oven to 250°C immediately.
Gently, carefully, invert the dough from the banneton onto a baking sheet lined with kitchen parchment paper. Slash the top.
When the oven has reached temperature, lower the heat to 220°C, bake the bread for 22 minute and it's done.
The loaf on the left here was baked with the ingredients amounts listed. The one on the right has 1 tablespoon less water. The one of the left not only looks better, it also has a better, moister texture.
Story Behind this Recipe
When I changed the kind of bread flour I used from imported flour to one made from domestically grown wheat (Haru yo Koi brand), I could really taste the great flavor of the flour. I wanted to make a simple pain de champagne without any additions.
In step 1, you may be worried that the kneading time is too short, but for a hefty bread like this it's better not to develop the gluten too much, so there's no need to be concerned. If you dont have a banneton or other bread-rising mold, just make a round boule-type loaf.