Baking French Bread

Crusty French BreadI've at last learned how to make a reasonable french type loaf. I know this because everyone thinks my bread is "very good" and tastes "just like crusty french bread you buy from the shop".

If you want to have a go, take 5 cups of strong bread flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of easy bake yeast (no soaking), 2 cups of warmish water (not hot, it'll kill the yeast).

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. If the mix is too gooey, you can add a little more flour and mix it in.

Scatter some flour on your work surface and tip out the mix onto it. Now begin the kneading process. Push the dough away from you with one hand whilst holding down the other end of the dough with your knouckles. Periodically add flour to the work surface to firm up the dough if needed. Aim to knead for around 10 minutes, watch the video below if you know nothing about kneading...

Once you're happy with your kneaded dough, place it into a clean, oiled bowl (a little vegetable oil on some kitchen towel rubbed around the bowl will be fine). You can cover with a piece of kitchen roll to keep the flies off (if there are any around).

Now leave the dough to double in size. You may have to place in an airing cupboard or warm place if the room temperature is cool. Once doubled in size, using the palms of your hands, roll out into a sausage shape on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the sausage of dough into two for two medium sized loaves, or roll out thinner for four thinner baguettes (or one bageutte if you have a wide oven). Place the dough on a baking sheet(s) and paint an egg glaze onto the surface of the dough (1 egg beaten).

Roll out the bread dough and place on a baking sheet

Now leave until doubled in size as in the image below...

Let the bread dough double in size

Now, add boiling water to a baking dish (or pyrex dish) and place it in the bottom of your oven. When the oven is at 220 degrees centigrade, place the baking sheet(s) in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (check after fifteen minutes). When baked, (the loaves will sound hollow when tapped), remove from the oven and cool on a wire grid. back to our homepage

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