This version of French bread is the simplest formula in the book. It uses the cold fermentation technique, and the resulting dough actually holds the shape and cuts of conventional French baguettes, bâtards, and boules better than the lean dough (page 46), which is wetter. Because the dough isn’t as wet, it’s especially important to handle it with a firm but light touch. Too much pressure will squeeze out the gas trapped during the overnight rise, resulting in small, even holes rather than the prized large, irregular holes. I’ve also included a variation that makes spectacular loaves with a distinctive blistered crust.
makes 2 large loaves, 4 small loaves, or many rolls
5 1/3 cups (24 oz / 680 g) unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons (0.5 oz / 14 g) salt, or 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (0.25 oz / 7 g) instant yeast
2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute, until well blended and smooth. If the spoon gets too doughy, dip it in a bowl of warm water. The dough should form a coarse shaggy ball. Let it rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes or knead by hand for about 2 minutes, adjusting with flour or water as needed. The dough should be smooth, supple, and tacky but not sticky.
Whichever mixing method you use, knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured work surface for about 1 minute more, then transfer it to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. If the dough feels too wet and sticky, do not add more flour; instead, stretch and fold it one or more times at 10-minute intervals, as shown on page 18, before putting it in the refrigerator. (If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.)
On baking day
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Gently transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, taking care to degas it as little as possible. For baguettes and bâtards, divide the cold dough into 10-ounce (283 g) pieces; for 1 pound boules, divide the dough into 19-ounce (53 g) pieces; and for freestanding loaves, use whatever size you prefer.
Form the dough into bâtards and/or baguettes (see pages 21 and 22) or boules (see page 20). Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours, until increased to 1 1/2 times its original size.
About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550°F (288°C) or as high as it will go, and prepare the oven for hearth baking (see page 30).
Remove the plastic wrap from the dough 15 minutes prior to baking; if using proofing molds, transfer the dough onto a floured peel.
Just prior to baking, score the dough 1/2 inch deep with a serrated knife or razor. Transfer the dough to the oven, pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, then lower the oven temperature to 450°F (232°C).
Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown, the loaves sound hollow when thumped, and the internal temperature is about 200°F (93°C) in the center. For a crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in for another 5 minutes before removing.
Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving.
By simply varying the method so that the shaped loaves undergo cold fermentation, rather than the freshly mixed bulk dough, you can create a spectacular loaf with a distinctive blistered crust. After the dough is mixed and placed in a clean, oiled bowl, let it rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Divide and shape as described above, mist with spray oil, then cover the shaped dough loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight, away from anything that might fall on it or restrict it from growing.
The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking. It should have grown to at least 1 1/2 times its original size. Prepare the oven for hearth baking, as described on page 30. While the oven is heating, remove the plastic wrap and let the dough sit uncovered for 10 minutes. Score the dough while it’s still cold, then bake as described above.
"Reprinted with permission from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads by Peter Reinhart, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc." Photo credit: Leo Gong © 2009 Peter Reinhart is a baking instructor and faculty member at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the cofounder of Brother Juniper's Bakery in Santa Rosa, California, and is the author of seven books on bread baking, including Crust and Crumb, the 2002 James Beard Cookbook of the Year and IACP Cookbook of the Year, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and the 2008 James Beard Award-winning Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.
Wow! I wasn't sure about making the dough in the food processor, but after reading all of the reviews on this bread, I decided to give it a try. It was truly amazing! You would never know that I didn't spend all day in the kitchen making this bread. My family loved it and we are very persnickety about our bread! (Including my daughter, who is a huge bread baker.) We had it with Sausage, Pasta, and Bean Soup - another Epicurious favorite. I did make 2 adjustments based on the reviews below - I did a second 30 minute rise in the food processor and I baked at 430 degrees for 15 minutes for the "first bake", then baked the additional 5 minutes upside down directly on the oven rack, as called for in the recipe. It was perfect. I will definitely be making this bread again many more times!
Ignore those few negative reviews! This recipe is easy and fantastic. It’s been a go-to for me for years now. Addressing a couple of those reviews—French bread is always best fresh, not day after; a quality food processor can handle a tough 1 minute; and for the person who completely ditched the directions and did not use the processor—smh not even sure what to say. Anyway, at my casa this is always devoured in short order.
Bread was good right out of the oven but did not hold up well even one day later after being in a ziplock bag. It was dry and overly chewy.
I would not make this recipe again. I have been baking bread with my grandma since I was a teen. This recipe was waaaaay fussy. I changed it up on a few things. I bloomed my yeast, also added sugar. Then I put the wet mixture in the kitchenaide. forget the stupid food processor. wasted step and way to complicated. I put the wet mixture in the bowl including the vinegar, then added the floor salt mixture until it was the right softness and consistency. Then I let it rise, rest and made two beautiful loves that were brushed with herbs, salt and olive oil. No pan underneath, no bs. This was a very fussy recipe for sure! I learned that vinegar will prob give a sour dough flavor and I like that part of the recipe. so I did glean something new. But way, way to fussy! I am a foodie, but I do not care for fussy.
A very good recipe, however I question the use of vinegar and lack of sugar. I made po' boy rolls and they left a sour aftertaste. Next time I will add a tablespoon of sugar to try and balance it out. If that doesn't work, the vinegar goes out the door completely.
A food processor, surely a cruel joke, or perhaps the author's day job includes repairing kitchen appliance motors. Bread dough calls for a stand mixer or mixed by hand, period. Measurements by volume instead of weight is another clue this is not a well thought out recipe.
Came out perfectly, I've made these at least 2 times a week since I found the recipe several weeks ago. Everyone loves it and it is so easy to make I no longer buy sandwich bread. For my oven though, 15 minutes baking was perfect. I turned them over for the remaining 5 minutes after shutting the oven off.
I have always sworn that while I can cook, I cannot bake. I was SO wrong! Used cookie sheet as others have, and brushed with salt and garlic. Dinner for 8, not one crumb left and everyone wanted recipe. Easy, turned out perfect, and adapted perfectly to high altitude. Now I have the confidence to try other more difficult breads and pastries! Thank you! 3
Have never made french bread before, and it was a hit! Did not have bread pans, so I just formed them into two baguette-like long rolls on a cookie sheet, and that worked fine. Sprinkled some salt on the top. Next time will experiment with garlic, rosemary, and other ideas as suggested below.
This is my go-to recipe (I have made this so many times I have it memorized). I make this in my Kitchenaide mixer with the dough hook instead of the food processor--really, I am just too lazy to drag it out and have to clean it later-- and it comes out perfect. I let it raise in the mixing bowl. Cutting the dough into 4-6 pieces means you can make rolls for po-boy sandwiches, just sayin'
Made this for the first time last week. I did not use the white vinegar. Instead I have sour dough starter that has been going for 3 plus months. I used one cup of the spur dough starter and 3 cups flour. I'm stead of two loaves I made rolls and it was fantastic. My wife told me not to do that again because she could not stop eating them. The entire dinner party of eight made positive comments. Reduce the water added or ad a littleness flower to get the consistancy wanted.
Boy, I totally butchered this recipe. I don't have a food processor so I made it by hand. I cut the recipe in half. I didn't have very foamy yeast. I didn't let it rise fully. I didn't fold it like origami...And it came out awesome!! This recipe is not as high maintenance as it seems.
It was perfect first time!
I want to try this recipe but I don't have a food processor...can it be done by hand?
Exceptionally easy. Nice crust, good texture and chewiness, but a bit too salty. Definitely worth trying again.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been making a lot of headlines lately: criticising Trump’s “****hole” comment, rejecting the UK’s post-Brexit expectations, and protecting that greatest of great cultural icons of France: the French baguette.
Last year in November, Macron faced pressure from the country’s 33,000 bakers who were up in arms at the suggestion of eliminating a law dating back to 1919 which enforced a weekly day of rest for bakers. The suggestion had been made by the country’s grocery giants and bakery chains who insisted that bakeries should operate seven days a week for the sake of better business and free enterprise. But the bakers argued that observance of the 1919 law gave them a much needed break from exhausting work and brutal hours.
Now in January, bakers and bread are again on the president’s plate, as he lends his support to a demand being made by the National Confederation of French Bakers to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. With its crisp crust and soft, fluffy centre the baguette, argues Macron, is part of “the daily life of the French, in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It’s not a matter of beliefs, everyone has it.” This demand was prompted by a perceived threat to the “baguette de tradition” or traditional baguette which, by law, must be made using only flour, yeast, salt and water. The threat is being posed by supermarkets and grocery store owners who have no qualms about selling baguettes made in factories or frozen half-baked baguettes that must be fully baked in the oven.
The French baguette can be part of a meal taken at any time during the day
There are several origin stories told about the baguette. The most popular and most probable one of them dates back to 1920. This was the year a law was passed in France that prevented bakers from working between the hours of 10pm and 4am. This restriction made it impossible for them to make the traditional large bread loaf in time for customers’ breakfasts. The longer, thinner baguette could be prepared and baked in far less time and so it quickly took over as the nation’s choice of bread. So much so that it is referred to by some as the French loaf or French bread.
Celebrated food author and TV chef Julia Child lived in France from 1948 to 1954 with her husband Paul Child who was an American diplomat. During her time spent in Paris, Marseilles and Provence, she developed a lifelong passion for French food and French cooking. Through her popular TV show The French Chef and several cookbooks, Child introduced the American public to French cuisine. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 she provided the following recipe for the authentic French baguette. Just four simple ingredients and viola!
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer using the flat beater, combine the yeast, two and a half cups flour and salt. Mix on low for about 30 seconds.
With the motor running on low, pour in the warm water. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off beater and switch to the dough hook. Mix in the remaining cup of flour a little at a time to make soft dough, adding more or less flour as needed. Knead the dough for five minutes. The surface should be smooth and the dough soft and somewhat sticky.
Turn the dough on to a kneading surface and let rest for two to three minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (23oC) until it becomes three-and-a-half times its original volume. This will probably take about three hours.
Deflate the dough and return it to the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite tripled in volume, about an hour-and-a-half to two hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the rising surface: rub flour on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet.
Divide the dough into three, six or 12 pieces depending on the size of loaves you wish to make. Fold each piece of dough in two, cover loosely, and let the pieces relax for five minutes.
Shape the loaves and place them on the prepared towel or parchment. Cover the loaves loosely and let them rise at room temperature until almost triple in volume, about one and a half to two and a half hours.
Preheat oven to 450oF. Set up a “simulated baker’s oven” by placing a baking stone on the centre rack, with a metal broiler pan on the rack beneath, at least four inches away from the baking stone to prevent the stone from cracking.
Transfer the risen loaves on to a peel. Slash the loaves and spray them with water. Slide the loaves into the oven on to the pre-heated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray.
Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. (Remove parchment paper after about 10-15 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Spray the loaves with water three times at three-minute intervals. Cool for two to three hours before cutting.
Published in Dawn, EOS, January 28th, 2018
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Bread epicurious french
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