Artisan Style French Bread

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Artisan Style French Bread

Did I mention that I love baking my own breads?  There’s something deeply satisfying about how the whole house smells when fresh bread is baking….and that first bite with a little fresh butter, it’s a thing of beauty.  Most people from Bangladesh, India or Pakistan don’t usually bake yeast breads.  Mostly because ovens are not a regular part of the average South Asian kitchen.  We have tandoori ovens and we make a lot of flat breads like Naan (recipe coming soon), Parathas, Rotis, Chapatis…  Yeast Breads are available at grocery stores but they tend to be the “wonder bread” variety.  Mass produced in factories and not the Artisan style.  It is always a wonder to most of my Bengali family that I can bake breads.  They talk about that like I’ve mastered rocket science.  Well, I do have those degrees in Chemistry and Nutrition, but really, baking bread is a no-brainer.  Try this recipe with me.  You’ll love it. And you can’t beat the taste or the price. The average cost of each loaf  is about 48 cents each.

Proof the yeast by adding a tsp of sugar into warm tap water and letting it bubble and foam

Add melted butter, salt, about half the flour and use a hand mixer to blend it in.

Knead dough with the heel of your hand to work in the rest of the flour.

Roll into a smooth ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over so that the top is covered in oil as well.

Let it double in size (about 1 hour)

Sprinkle pans with a little corn meal

Divide dough in half and shape into 10 inch logs

Make about four cuts on top of dough and cover and let rise again.

Bake bread at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes then brush with egg white and water mixture and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes

Let it cool a little and serve warm.

Here’s the recipe:

Artisan Style French Bread

2 packages of  active dry yeast (about 4 1/2 tsp)

2 1/2 cups of warm water

1 tsp sugar

6-7 cups of all purpose flour (depends on humidity, but I usually end up using the whole 7 cups)

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

4 tsp corn meal

1 egg white

1 tsp cold water

In a large 6 quart bowl mix warm tap water with sugar and mix well.  Add yeast and let it foam and bubble up (about 2-3 minutes).  Add salt, butter and about 4 cups of flour to yeast and mix with an electric hand mixer.  When dough is soft and sticky, begin adding the rest of the flour by hand.  Take out of the pan and knead dough lightly until it becomes nice and smooth and elastic, should take about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a nice smooth ball.  Wash out the original pan and lightly oil it with a little oil and put the dough ball in the bowl, turning it once to coat the top with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it double in size.  Takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Gently punch dough down and divide evenly.  Shape into approximately 10″ logs.  Sprinkle two parchment or Silpat covered cookie sheets with 2 tsp of corn meal each.  Place dough on each cookie sheet and cut four slits on the top.  Cover and let rise again for about another 45 minutes until double in size.  Place in pre-heated 450 degree Fahrenheit  oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Take out bread and brush with egg white and water mixture (this makes it brown, glossy and amazing looking) and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  Let cool on a cooling rack for about 6-8 minutes before serving.

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4 responses »

  1. I think my problem with bread is that I haven’t ever shaped it then let it rise again! That’s probably why I always end up with flat dense loaves lol! So glad I saw this I will definitely follow your advice and try this recipe x

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