French Bread

Sorry about the lack of posting lately – this week has been a bit crazy! On that same note, sorry I don’t have a fresh image to give you, either. I’ll work on it.

If you’re new to bread (or if you need a reminder!), please see my tutorials on beginning breadmaking!

I figured it was about time I post the first bread recipe. I thought I would start with a very basic loaf – French bread. The beauty of French bread is the simplicity. The only ingredients are white flour, water, yeast, and salt, making it a chinch to put together. I can almost guarantee that you have these ingredients on hand! And because it is commercially yeasted, it only takes about 4 hours to complete. The dough that comes together is soft and supple, will develop its gluten easily, and is easy to work with. Out of the oven, French bread has a nice crisp crust and a fairly soft crumb. It’s great with a bowl of chili, as toast, by itself, in a sandwich… It’s pretty much great with anything!

For this loaf, you will need a pizza stone or cookie sheet to bake on. You will not use a loaf pan. I give instructions ( labeled with a star*) on how to create steam in your oven using a broiler pan and water. This helps achieve a good crust, but is optional.

French Bread

15 oz all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
9 oz water

Combine flour salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Do not place salt directly on top of the yeast, as it will kill it. Instead, place them on opposite sides of the bowl and mix into the flour.

Add the water and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Knead by hand for 10 minutes, or in a mixer for 8, until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Form into a ball and place into an oiled bowl.

Let rise for 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Liberally dust a cookie sheet or pizza peel (if using a stone) with flour. Or, you can cover the pan or peel with parchment. Turn the dough out onto an oiled counter. Gently deflate and form into a ball by pulling the top of the dough down toward the bottom. Do this carefully – only enough to create surface tension, but not enough to tear the dough.

Place on your prepared surface and spray with spray oil. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise for another 45-60 minutes, until doubled again.

20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400F. *Place an empty broiler pan (or, I use an old loaf pan) in the oven while it heats.

After the dough has risen, slide it into the oven.

Pour a cup of water into the hot broiler pan and quickly shut the oven door. After 10 minutes, remove the water pan. Continue to bake for another 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and it sounds hollow when tapped. The internal temperature should read 195-200 degrees. Let cool on a cooling rack for at least one hour. Enjoy!

Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe or bread in general – I’m happy to help! Email me at ovenmittsblog (at) gmail (dot) com. Happy breadmaking!

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2 thoughts on “French Bread

  1. Pingback: Breadmaking 101 – An Introduction to Bread | Ovenmitts

  2. Pingback: Breadmaking 104 – Bakers’ Percentages | Ovenmitts

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