French bread, or baguette, is essentially a long and thin loaf of specially made bread which is believed to have had its origin in France. It is an important part of the French cuisine. The use of the bread has, over the years, spread to almost all parts of the world and it is consumed and served almost everywhere. The terms baguette and French bread are often used interchangeably.
The bread has been baked for centuries and while it is an important commercial product, French households take pride in making fresh bread at home and almost all homes have secrets recipes to give a unique and fresh flavor to the breads.
French Bread Recipe: History
The history and origin of the bread is largely unknown and the little details that are present are sketchy and questionable. Long and wide loafs of breads have reportedly been made since the era of Louis XIV. In the min-18th century, however, the loaves became thinner, but they were still much longer than the modern day baguette. Over the years, convenience took precedence over size and the bread became thinner and more manageable.
There is another theory which associates French bread and its origin to Vienna, Austria. Some believe that baguette is a direct descendant of pain viennoies, a 19th century Austrian bread. This is, however, largely seen as a misunderstanding by many.
Most widely, the bread is associated with France, more-so because of its name and the country is mostly credited as being its inventor.
French Bread Recipe: Common Ingredients Used
French bread is a simple preparation. White wheat flour, dry yeast, salt and warm water are the ingredients most commonly used. Traditionalists believe that these are the only ingredients that should be used. Some modern day bakers, however, have started experimenting with the traditional recipe but as there is little room for changes, the only ingredient that changes is the flour used. While bread flour is used by some, there are bakers who make a healthier version by using whole-grain wheat. A little sugar might be added sometimes to make the bread more flavorsome.
French Bread Recipe: Preparation Overview
Making the bread is fairly simple and the preparation method is baking. It takes about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to make French bread. All the ingredients are prepared and mixed as required. A dough is prepared which is kneaded till it has achieved the right consistency. The dough is then given the trademark baguette shape and baked in the oven. While traditional bread was slow baked in a wooden oven, modern-day bakers use electric ovens to bake the bread quickly. Once the bread is cooked and its crust is crisp enough, it is ready to be served or sold.
Baguette: Serving and Eating
French bread is one of the most widely consumed foods in France. It is eaten throughout the day as a snack, accompaniment to meals and dishes, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even as a midnight snack. It is usually sliced before consumption. While the bread is mostly eaten as it is, it can also be used as a base for various preparations. Although not strictly a sandwich bread, baguette is sometimes used to make sandwiches. The bread can be served and consumed hot, fresh from the oven, or at room temperature.
Popular bakers generally make several batches of the bread in a day because the demand for the bread is very high.
French Bread Recipe: Nutrition Facts
A standard loaf of French bread made from white wheat flour generally has 115 calories and 1.7 grams of fat. The sodium content of the bread is very high and generally stands at about 345.3 milligrams. The carbohydrates content is about 30 grams, with 4.9 grams of protein. The bread is not quite unhealthy but it should be consumed in controlled quantities, especially by those who suffer from health problems like hypertension, high cholesterol and other weight related issues.
Whole wheat flour is used to make the preparation healthier but its consumption should still be controlled.
- A well made baguette is crisp and chewy instead of soft. Giving the bread the perfect texture is generally the hardest part and requires a lot of practice.
- French bread is not easy to store and it is always best to buy or make it fresh, preferably a few hours before use.