right now i am gazing very lovingly at two beautiful loaves of french bread i made this morning. they are so perfectly french bread-ish, that i want to display them in a glass case and just look at them. i’ve always been a mostly mediocre yeast baker, but these make me feel like a real expert.
Amazing French Bread
recipe courtesy Baking Bites
5 cups AP flour
1 package of dry active yeast
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water
In a glass measuring cup or a small bowl, mix the yeast, a good sized pinch of sugar, and 1/4 cup of warm water together. Let it sit until it’s creamy looking. In your stand mixer bowl (make sure you’ve got the dough hook on it), put in 2 cups of flour and the salt. mix it together. Stir in the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 and 3/4 cups warm water. Mix this together well. Add in the rest of the flour one cup at a time, mixing it altogether as you go. You may not need all three extra cups. I used almost 3. Let it all come together and dump it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl (make sure you turn the dough ball over in the bowl to grease it all over). Cover it and let it rise for about an hour.
After it has doubled in size, gently deflate it and divide it in half. Place these halves onto a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough and let it rest 10 minutes.
Roll the two dough balls into a large rectangle. Starting at the long end of the dough, roll it up and press the seam together to seal it. Taper the ends and pinch them to seal. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray lightly with Pam. Sprinkle cornmeal over the pan. Place the loaves, seam side down, onto the baking sheet (or sheets – for some weird reason I used two sheets). Beat the egg white with the tablespoon of water. Brush the loaves with the egg wash. Cover with a damp cloth and let the loaves rise another 40-45 minutes.
After they’ve risen again, with a sharp knife, score the tops three or four times, 1/4 of an inch deep. Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take them out of the oven, brush them again with egg wash. Bake them for 20 more minutes until they’re golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Cut a piece off while it’s still hot and eat it with some butter. It is mother-effing delicious.
cooking music: Kris Kristofferson