Monday, January 18, 2010

French Bread

This is not necessarily a definitive recipe - I just made it to good result the other night, and had to sort of distill a few recipes to do it. I'm not sure if I needed to cook it longer, but it wasn't quite as crisp as baguettes normally are - however, I liked it, and it was a little less harsh on the roof of my mouth.

1 4oz package of dry yeast/2.25 tsp yeast from a jar
1/2 c. warm water

3.5 c. flour
2.25 tsp. salt
1.25 c. water

1 egg white.

1) Combine 1/2 c. warm water and yeast (I added just a little honey to keep the yeasties happy)

2) Mix flour and salt, then add yeast water and normal water, mix.

3) Knead until pliant. Let rise until tripled, or until you get sick of waiting and it's at least doubled.

4) Punch down, rise again until doubled.

5) Punch down, cut into three pieces (or as many pieces as you want loaves). Let rest 5 minutes.

6) Use a rolling pin to roll the pieces out into long thin rectangles, then roll them up to make long thin tubes. Pinch the seam and the ends, then place seam-side down on a baking sheet, either oiled or sprinkled with cornmeal. Make diagonal, 1/4" deep cuts along the length of the bread - I recommend making them so that they'll divide it into easily separated single pieces. Let rise until approximately doubled in size, then wash the outside with egg white. Bake at 450 for approximately 20 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped.

1 comment:

NoneMoreBlack said...

The master ratio for lean white bread dough is as follows:

5 parts flour : 3 parts water : 1/10 part salt(by weight)

Expressed as a baker's percentage this is translated as:

100% flour : 60% water : 2 percent salt : (yeast)

The yeast weight depends on the type of yeast used and the intended length of fermentation, but the amount here (~1 lb flour) is more or less appropriate to a single "dose" of yeast.

To generalize this into a scalable recipe, I would use:

20 ounces flour
15 ounces water
1 dose of yeast(either an envelope, the prescribed volume of dry yeast, or a 3% baker's weight of fresh yeast)
1 tablespoon Morton's salt (the weight of salt called for here is 2% of 20 ounces, or .4 ounces. Morton's salt has the density of water, thus a tablespoon weighs approximately 1/2 ounce)

Yeastwise, I prefer to use less yeast at the outset in order to ferment longer, which develops more flavor and gluten.