Wednesday, May 6, 2009
French bread (the authentic kind) is one of the toughest bread to bake at home. There are a lot of tips that can be found online. The following recipe is pretty easy to follow and does not require poolish or a slow rising time. Although this is supposed to result in less tasty bread, I felt it turned out pretty good. However, the crust is not as crispy and thin as it should be.
This recipe yields 1 loaf or 2 baguettes.
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
About 4 cups unbleached white flour
Corn meal to put under dough on pan
1/2 egg white mixed with 1/2 tablespoons water to brush dough before cooking.
Mix yeast, salt, water and 2 cups of flour. Beat by hand or mixer for two minutes. Add 1 more cup flour. Beat 2 more minutes. Add 1 more cup flour and mix with hand, adding more flour until stiff enough to knead and handle. Knead for 8-10 minutes.
Put dough in greased bowl, turn over and cover. Let rise in warm place until doubled. Punch down, cut into 2 parts depending on the size of loaf you want. Make long loaf. Sprinkle cooking sheet with cornmeal, put on dough, let rise 30 minutes. Make several slashes diagonally across the top of the loaves, brush with egg white. Put loaves into a cold oven and set a pan of very hot water in the bottom. Turn on oven to 205C. Bake 35-40 minutes (slightly less if making smaller loaf). Towards end, crack oven door with spoon to dry out oven for a crispier loaf.
Please be aware that some people experienced oven malfunction after steaming.