Classic French Bread
|Dry yeast||2 Tablespoon (1 Package)|
|Tepid water||2 1⁄2 Cup (40 tbs)|
|Hard wheat flour||17 1⁄2 Ounce, mixed with white flour|
|Unbleached white flour||17 1⁄2 Ounce (Use 35 Ounces, If Not Adding Hard Wheat Flour)|
|Salt||1 Teaspoon, dissolved|
Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir to dissolve.
Using a small paper sack on your scale, weigh out a total of 2 pounds and 3 ounces of flour.
Make a sponge of the water and yeast, together with 4 cups of the weighed-out flour.
Whip for 10 minutes with an electric mixer.
It will pull away from the side of the mixing bowl.
Add the salted water.
Add the remaining flour and knead for 5 minutes in a good machine, or 15 minutes by hand.
Place on Formica counter, or on a piece of plastic wrap, and cover with a large metal bowl.
Let rise for 2 hours.
Punch down, and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down again, and mold into 3 or 4 loaves.
Let the loaves rise.
I use an extra oven with a pan of hot water in the bottom.
This allows for steam heat, perfect for raising dough.
Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet before letting them rise; you may wish to place cornmeal on the greased baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
When the loaves have risen to double in original bulk, place them in the upper one-third of the oven, important: Place a pan of hot water on the bottom shelf.
This will assure you of a great crust.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned and the loaves sound hollow when you thump their bottoms with your finger.
If you wish an old-world look to your bread, simply dust the loaves with flour before the final rising.
You can use an egg and water glaze, but I am convinced that you will get a much better crust if you simply use flour.
This bread is so rich that you need not put butter on it.
The French rarely eat butter on bread.
And if you wish to eliminate both salt and butter, simply cut down on the amount of the salt in the recipe.
It is tasty without.