I found this recipe on pinterest (where I find every recipe ever) and as soon as I saw this picture, I knew I had to try to recreate this piece of perfection. My favorite food varies from day to day because I love food – but french bread is really and truly one of my favorite foods. Hard and crusty on the outside and soft on the inside – omg. So mom and I, after having several failed attempts at bread recipes, decided to give this one a try. It is a very long process that involves a lot of waiting, but we did it and I am actually very proud of what we made. Our two loaves of french bread were as close to perfect as we’ve ever gotten. It took about 8 hours to finish this – so give yourself enough time!!!
This awesome recipe can be found on this blog: Wild Yeast Blog
What you’ll be working with:
- one cake (0.6 ounce or 17 grams) fresh yeast or one package active dry yeast [Susan’s note: Here are some equivalents: fresh yeast: 17 grams; active dry yeast: 0.25 ounce or 7 grams. You could also use 6 grams of instant yeast.]
- 1/3 cup warm water (not over 100 degrees F)
- 3 1/2 cups (about one pound) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt [Susan’s note: this is about 13.5 grams. I cut my salt down to 10 grams.]
- 1 1/4 cups tepid water (70 to 74 degrees F)
So here are the steps we followed:
- Combine the yeast and warm water and let liquefy completely.
- Combine the yeast mixture with the flour, the salt, and the remaining water in a mixing bowl.
- Turn the dough onto a kneading surface and let rest for 2 – 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.
- Knead the dough for 5 – 10 minutes. See the original recipe for details on Julia’s kneading technique [p. 59].
- Let the dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes, then knead again for a minute. The surface should be smooth and the dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.
- Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (about 70F) until 3 1/2 times its original volume. This will probably take about 3 hours.
- Deflate [fold] the dough and return it to the bowl [p. 60].
- Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rising surface: rub flour into canvas or linen towel placed on a baking sheet.
- Divide the dough into 3, 6, or 12 pieces depending on the size loaves you wish to make.
- Fold each piece of dough in two, cover loosely, and let the pieces relax for 5 minutes [p.62].
- Shape the loaves and place them on the prepared towel. See original recipe for detailed instructions [p. 62 or 68].
- Cover the loaves loosely and let them rise at room temperature until almost triple in volume, about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 450F.
- Set up your “simulated baker’s oven” [p. 70] if you will use one. Using an “unmolding board,” transfer the risen loaves onto a baking sheet [p.65] or peel [p. 72].
- Slash the loaves.
- Spray the loaves with water and get them into the oven (either on the baking sheet or slide them onto the stone [p. 72]).
- Steam with the “steam contraption” [p. 71 and 72] or by spraying three times at 3-minute intervals.
- Bake for a total of about 25 minutes.
- Cool for 2 – 3 hours.