Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crusty French Bread

1 1/2 envelops active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm (90 degrees) water
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 cups unsifted unbleached flour
Pinch of salt

1. In bowl of large food processor, place yeast with 1/4 cup water and process 2 seconds.
2. Add flour; process. Add salt while processing ; add the 2 cups of water all at once. Process 16 to 20 seconds until a ball forms.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead it briefly. Place in a large (3 qt.), greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place without a draft to let rise until double in bulk.
4. Punch down dough to release air bubbles. Cover and let rise again until double in bulk.
5. Punch down again; shape any way you wish: baguettes, 2 or 3 round loaves, or make 3 or 4 coffee can breads, filling greased 1 lb. size cans half full.
6. If making baguettes, place dough in long, narrow bread pans. Allow to rise in warm place until almost double. (If you don't have the long, narrow baguette pans, simply sprinkle cornmeal or grits on greased cookie sheet and place dough lengths on it to rise.)
7. When dough has risen to almost double, slash top in several places with a razor blade. Place in preheated 425 degree oven, throw 2 ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven and close the door. This will create steam. After 20 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 30 to 35 minutes longer. Says Pierre, "I like my loaves well cooked."

Make 4-6 baguettes

Note: For those readers who do not have a large-size food processor, you may make the bread in a regular-size processor, using the following ingredient measurements: 1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose unbleached flour, 1 envelope active dry yeast, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water and a dash of salt. This will make 2 baguette loaves.

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