As our month of Bread postings draws to a close I give you a recipe for perfect French Bread. You have to plan ahead for this bread, because it spends the whole day in rising and then after being punched down spends the night in the refrigerator. If you like a nice soft French Bread, its worth the wait! This recipe makes one large loaf. (the recipe is loosely based on KAF)
3/4 tsp. Dry, active Yeast
1-1/2 cups Bread Flour
Mix for 5 minutes using the dough hook attachment. The dough will be stiff. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 4-6 hours.
3/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 Tabl. Sugar
3-1/4 – 3-1/2 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp. Salt
Mix using the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes. Pull the dough out onto a floured counter and hand knead for a couple of minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 6 hours. After 6 hours, punch the dough down to release the gas and cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.
The next day: remove the bowl from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place (my “place” is the oven – no heat). Because the dough is cold this will take approx. 4 hours to double in size. After the dough has doubled, place it on the counter, press down into a rough rectangle and tightly roll up jelly roll style to form a nice loaf, approx 13″ long. Place the loaf diagonally on a baking sheet.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. Using a sharp knife, score the loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush the loaf with cold water. I sprinkled mine with sesame seeds. Bake in pre-heated 375 degree. For the first 10 minutes, occasionally throw an ice cube on the floor of the oven to cause steam (the ice won’t hurt the oven). Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.