French Country Round
|Skim milk||1 1⁄2 Cup (24 tbs)|
|Active dry yeast||2 1⁄2 Teaspoon|
|All purpose flour||3 Cup (48 tbs) (Plus A Little Extra For Flouring During Preparation)|
Put the milk in a saucepan and scald over medium heat just until bubbly around the edges, making sure not to bring to a full boil.
Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes to lukewarm (105 to 115 degrees on an instant read thermometer).
Combine 3/4 cup of the lukewarm milk and the yeast in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes to proof. (The mixture will begin to bubble.)
Combine the salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the proofed yeast and the remaining 3/4 cup of milk.
Continue to mix until well combined.
Using a wooden spoon, gently mix in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead for about 8 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, and springs back to the touch.
Form into a ball, flour lightly, and place in a warm, ungreased bowl.
Cover with a damp cloth and set aside until the dough has doubled in size. (This should take about 2 hours in a warm kitchen.)
Punch the dough down to flatten it and remove it from the bowl.
Form into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or on a baking stone.
Cover and allow the dough to double a second time, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut an "X" on the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Place the baking sheet or baking stone on the middle rack and ice cubes on the bottom of the oven to create vapor.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly brown.
The loaf is done if it sounds hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom.