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Du Pain Francais
1 pkg. (1/4 oz. or 2-1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1-1/4 C warm water
1 TBS sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 to 3-1/2 C flour (do not use self-rising flour)
1 TBS cornmeal
1 egg white
2 TBS cold water
Dissolve the yeast in a two-quart bowl with warm water. Stir in the sugar, salt and two cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle; dough will be soft. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Place dough in a greased 2-1/2-quart bowl, turning the greased side up. Cover and let rise at room temperature until dough has slightly more than doubled, one to two hours. Longer rising time typically gives French bread more texture.
Punch the dough down; cover and let rise an additional fifteen minutes. Grease a cookie sheet; sprinkle with the cornmeal. Divide the dough into halves. Roll each half into a rectangle (about 15x10 inches). Roll up tightly, beginning on the 15" side. Pinch edge of the dough to seal well; roll gently back and forth to taper the ends. Place both loaves lengthwise on the cookie sheet. Make 1/4" deep slashes across the loaves at 2" intervals (or make one long slash on each loaf). Brush the loaves with cold water and let rise again until slightly more than doubled, about two hours.
Heat oven to 375-degrees F; pour one cup hot water into a rectangular pan (about 13x9x2 inches). Place pan on lowest rack in the oven. Brush loaves with cold water; bake for about twenty minutes. Remove the pan of water from oven. Mix the egg white and two tablespoons of cold water; brush over loaves. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about thirty minutes longer. Recipe makes two loaves.
*French Bread image (C) Docteur Cosmos (2008). Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic licenses.
Food Fare Culinary Collection: French Nourriture
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