We’ve been trying out new bread recipes lately and everything had been turning out pretty dense. We wanted to try out a simple French bread recipe, but as I read a lot of different recipes and books/blogs about it, I found out that everyone does it a little differently. So, I figured why not try my own take on it and this is what we came up with.
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour and salt. In a separate container, combine the pinch of sugar, yeast and 2 cups of warm water. Let the water mixture sit for 3-5 minutes so the yeast can start to eat.
- Add water mixture to the large bowl of flour and salt. Mix until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining flour as you are mixing.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. What I like to do is turn the oven on for about 30 seconds to a minute and let it warm up a bit. This is where I place the dough to rise. Don’t let the oven get too hot, though. You should be able to keep your arm within the stove without it being uncomfortable (80-90F)
- Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
- Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
- With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.
And that’s it! Below you can see a couple of photos I took before I put the bread in the oven and after I had taken it out. Also, I’ve added the recipe as an attachment. It’s in an Open Document format. It should open in your word processor of choice. We support open platforms and open source software, so we use OpenOffice. Enjoy!