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This French bread recipe is surprisingly easy to make and has an authentic bakery taste.
|French Bread Sliced|
That source is the 1956 edition of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. The heck you say! But I tell the truth. I’ve tried many and this is the best. The curious thing is, this version of the recipe is ONLY in the 1956 edition. I have the 1951 edition and it’s different and NOT so good. Later editions had different recipes and again, not as good.
They key here is the 2 rising periods in addition to the rise after it’s shaped. This gives the dough an incredible taste AND texture. It’s easy to make, but there’s time involved because of the additional rise. Don’t try to save time and eliminate that second rise…the results will be poor and the additional time invested pays off in silver dollars. Trust me, I tried and it doesn’t come out as good.
|Apply Butter Liberally|
The crispiness of the crust comes from brushing the top twice with cold water. Then half way through the baking time, brushing it with an egg white wash. Commercial ovens have a steam cycle which accomplishes this (much better actually) and you can sort of achieve a similar effect by tossing a couple of ice cubes on the floor of your oven when you put the bread in to bake.
|Large crusty loaf|
For the Dough:
- 1 1/4 cups very warm water 95 degrees F
- 3 tbsp shortening i.e. Crisco
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast bread machine or SAF
- 3-4 cups bread flour all-purpose is fine too
For Top of Loaf:
- cold water
Egg White Glaze:
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tbsp cold water
- Sesame seeds
- Poppy Seeds
- 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal or semolina flour
- Mix all dough ingredients. Start with the minimum amount of flour. Dough should be silky but not sticky and have a firmish texture.
- Knead either by machine or hand. With machine, attach dough hook and knead for 5-8 minutes. Knead by hand 8-10 minutes.
- You may use a bread machine for the mixing and first rise. Follow manufacturer's directions for adding ingredients and use the "DOUGH" cycle.
- Place a little oil in a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, coating bottom of dough with the oil. Turn dough oil side up and cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
- (I use the oven-rise method. Before you put the bowl of dough in, turn on the oven. Let it run for about 30 seconds once you hear the heat come up, then turn the oven off. Put the bowl of dough in and it rises in the perfect environment)
- When dough is double in bulk, punch down, cover and let rise again until double in bulk; about 30 minutes. If you are using a bread machine, if there is a cycle for a 2nd rise, use that. If not, remove and follow directions from placing in the oiled bowl.
- When the 2nd rise is up, punch down dough and roll out in a 10 x 15 -inch rectangle. Roll up tightly from long side; seal seam. Roll the log of dough by placing hands at the 2 ends thus ending up with skinnier ends and a fatter middle.
- Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Dust with the cornmeal or semolina flour. *If not using parchment, grease baking sheet lightly and sprinkle with the cornmeal/semolina flour.
- Place shaped dough on prepared baking sheet. With sharp knife or razor blade, cut a 1/4-inch deep slit down center or make 3 short diagonal slashes across top of dough. Brush top with cold water.
- Let rise UNCOVERED in a warm draft-free place (I use the unlit oven) for 1 1/2 hrs.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush top of loaf again with cold water.
- Mix the water with the egg white and set aside.
- Bake bread for 20 minutes. Brush with egg white glaze and sprinkle with a topping if using. Return to oven and bake an additional 25 minutes.
- Makes 1 large loaf.
|Apply butter liberally|
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