Friday, July 4, 2008

Family French bread

The secret of good bread, whether French or other is the length of time it gets for the yeast to act on the flour and the quality of the flour. It is essential to leave the bread overnight before second proof. If you do it in one day you just won't get the flavor or texture. So basically the recipe is

2lbs of high gluten flour wholewheat or plain to your choice, although if you are doing wholewheat I would mix it 50:50 with white to get a lighter loaf
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt

Put the flour salt and fresh yeast (open a pack a week) in a bowl and mix with water you just have to add enough I cannot tell you, it will be about 2 cups but maybe more. You want a firm but elastic consistency and you need to knead it for about 8-10 minutes. Put in a large bowl with 1tbspn of oil in the bottom and roll the bread around to cover then put plastic wrap and a cloth over and leave for about 90 minutes or so until its clearly risen about double. Then punch it down flat again and wrap in oiled wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
The next morning take it out and put it in a bowl again covered until it warms and starts to rise, about 1 hour to 90 minutes. Add the same ingredients again PLUS 2 eggs and a cup of melted butter. Mix first and then add eggs once its formed up a bit and then butter last. Be careful as the butter and eggs will act like water so add much less water this time. Put the new larger load into a pan again oiled and cover as before for about 2 hours.
Then split it and shape into 4 loaves either 4 1lb bread tins or shape into 4 “boules” which are basically a round loaf. Cover with oiled film again and let rise for 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the bread in the oven. The bread should be done in about 30-35 minutes. Let it cool before cutting. In strictly bakers terms what you have done here is created a pre-ferment with the first batch, which then flavors the second. This is a nice loaf for sandwiches. It is important to put any wholewheat in the FIRST batch to allow the yeats to work on it as long as possible.

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