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French Bread - not hard at all

Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
edited 6:23AM in EggHead Forum
<p />Finished my french bread class today. Thanks to Dr. Chicken and Woody for their help and support. Actually pretty easy and very much like doing pizza with Spin's recipe. Both recipes use 3 cups flour and 1 cup water so the end result is about the same in dough. Here is the finished loaf after 25 min at 425. I mean not even a hint of smoke on this loaf - amazing! I don't know what french italian style bread is "suppose" to taste like, but this is good and not light or fluffy. Its a good solid loaf of bread like you would get from the baker. Next time I might omit the aluminium pan and place it right on the pizza stone.[p]


  • GrumpaGrumpa Posts: 861
    Tim M,[p]Great job and a nice picture as well. Geuss I'm going have to give in to this new craze when the weather improves. I love homemade bread.

  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    Bob, and Tim...super job for a first run..Mine was longer and thinner in the body with tapered ends. The taste is the same tho. The problem with trying to do em on the stone is getting em there without deflating em. once risen to baking level treat em gentle.
    IMHO anyway..Good show and thanks...

  • djm5x9djm5x9 Posts: 1,342
    Tim M:[p]"The keys to French bread: a slack (moist) dough, a good long rise, and a hot, steamy oven." [p]Although bread is very simple, there is as with everything else, technique. Some thoughts on French bread for your consideration:[p]- When cooking bread in an oven, on the rack below have a glass pan with water. The steam makes it cook better. I have not tried the water pan in the "K" and cannot comment as to its benefit.[p]- I make traditional baguettes (long and round) on a rectangular pizza stone that fits in my "K". With this setup I can cook four baguettes. A ceramics supply house should be able to provide you with a square or rectangular cooking surface that will fit the BGE and allow for more cooking surface. By all means, cook directly on your stone. [p]- Use King Arthur flour. This is the best flour I have found for bread making. The results are far superior to other flours I have used. Look around, this flour may be locally available.[p]- Use the best and fresh yeast. Yeast can make or break your bread. I get mine from King Arthur.[p]- Machine kneaded dough produces better results. A Kitchen Aid with a dough hook like Spin used for his pizza dough at EGGtoberfest is an excellent tool and has other uses as well.[p]- Traditional baguettes should be baked at 400* for 20 to 25 minutes.[p]- Use the same "French bread" recipe to make bread sticks, excellent for dipping in a pizza style sauce.[p]Good home made bread can add to a meal. If you are pleased with your French bread results, the next thing to try is your own buns and sandwich bread. They all can be done on your BGE. Good baking . . .

  • djm5x9,
    Darryl, you got it right! Why limit your self to 1 or 2 demensions, when there may be 5 or 6 more waiting to be used just for the taking!
    King Arthur products are hard to find here locally. We have to go nearly 100 miles to find it. Such is life! [p]Dr. C

  • Tim M,
    I'm glad it turned out for you! What I find with the two different recipes, is the Italian Style French bread is a sweeter nuttier flavor. It is very light and not nearly as dense as the Superior Supreme French bread. The Superior Supreme French bread has the light "sour" taste of a typical french bread. It is more dense than its "Italian cousin"! I like the Italian much better than the French, because we can use it for sandwiches too. A good EWPP sandmich with a little Q sauce is hard to beat![p]Dr. C

  • FritzFritz Posts: 179
    Tim M,[p]Definately place it right on the stone. You will get a nice free-form loaf that will make you wonder why you ever went to the bakery at all.[p]Fritz
  • dbdb Posts: 103
    Char-Woody, Set the dough on a piece of parchment paper for the last rise. Then pick up the paper with the dough on top and set it all down on the stone. No more cornmeal, no more sticking. My Grandma Rose taught me how to make italian bread. Bread flour, yeast, salt, and water. That's it. Let it rise three times to develop flavor and texture. French bread has sugar as well as salt and some fat can be added like butter or lard. Put a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the egg. lay the bread on the upper then dump a cup of water in the roasting pan. The steam creates the crusty french loaf. Use bread flower for the Italian and 3/4 all purpose flour - 1/4 bread flour for the french loaves.
    I'm not sure which I like best, bread or BBQ.

  • MaryMary Posts: 190
    db,[p]Both Italian and French bread have nothing but flour water salt and leavening - yeast or natural leavens like sourdough. Some Italian breads omit the salt too. The primary difference between Italian and French bread is the percentage of water in the dough. Italian bread is a slacker and moister dough than French bread, and harder to handle because of it. It is actually illegal in France to sell French bread with fat, sugar, milk, eggs or other additives. If a baker makes a bread with these ingredients, he must sell it as something else - like brioche. Legal additives in very small amounts in France are a tiny bit of fava bean flour, extremely tiny amounts of ascorbic acid, and amalyse. Some rye flour might be added too.[p]Bread made without salt was developed in Italy because during some period, salt was heavily taxed, so bakers figured out how to make great bread without it. Salt regulates yeast growth, so it's a bit tricky to make bread without it.[p]Americans who add fats and milk and call it French bread are misleading or don't know of the strict rules in France. Fat and milk tenderize the crumb of bread. It can be a pleasing bread, but it is not the chewy texture of French bread.[p]Mary
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    db, By golly db..thats a winner!! Between folks like you, Dr. Chicken, MaryB, and some other top bakers your gonna teach us how to do it..I really am thinking of getting a BGE just for baking..nothing else. Might be another small!
    That would be neat..a small, large and a small humped together in a bench. Cheers..C~W

  • dbdb Posts: 103
    Mary, Wow, thanks for the info. I thought French bread was rude and needed a shower...wait a minute.... no, that's me.
    I guess the recipies I've used are Americanized versions. We
    like our fat here in the USA. I've never been able to get my bread to taste as good as my Grandma's. The only difference I can see is that she used yeast that was in a cake, not dry and in a packet. I've never tried the cake yeast. Do you know if there is a difference in taste?

  • MaryMary Posts: 190
    Yes, there is a difference between dry and cake yeast. They are the same organism, but the cake yeast is always kept moist. It is more perishable than dry yeast, which is why it is now a bit hard to find. If you use it, be sure it is fresh. The flavor of the fresh yeast is better than that of dry yeast, probably the reason Dr. Chicken's starter is better tasting than using dry yeast straight. The cake yeast, being moist, keeps the yeast in a semi-active state like a yeast starter does.[p]You can improve the flavor of your yeast bread by using a lot less yeast, and rising the bread in cool temperatures for a longer period. Next time, start the night before and try adding only 1 tsp. yeast, and make a sponge the consistency of pancake batter - about 2 c. flour to 1+ cup water. Stir until well wetted - you don't have to worry about lumps much - the yeast will take care of those. Cover loosely and let sit in temperatures less than 70 degrees overnight, until you're ready to make up the bread. You will find the sponge bubbly. Then make as usual. This process will mellow the yeast considerably and keeping the bread dough cool will develop a very good flavor - almost nutty. It takes longer for the bread to rise, but the flavor and texture are much improved.[p]Mary[p]

  • dbdb Posts: 103
    Mary, Thanks again. Another question. I've seen people oil the bowls they use to let the dough rise and I think It was on a Julia Child show that she said not to oil it because a dry bowl gives the dough something to grab onto as it rises so it climbs up the side of the bowl. What do you think?[p]
  • MaryMary Posts: 190
    I think Julia is full of it. If your dough has so little rising power that it needs to grab hold of the bowl sides, you may as well just make crackers. The main thing is to keep the dough moist while it's fermenting. Lots of people use oil, which is fine if you're making bread that contains fat in it. If you're making the chewy, crusty, artisan type hearth breads, I think you're much better off just using water. Fat tenderizes the crumb of the bread - not what you want if you're after chewy and crusty. I put a couple tablespoons of cold water in the bowl, swish it around to wet the sides and dump the dough in that, maybe turning it to get the top wet, then cover with a plate, usually, but sometimes plastic wrap. I used to use moist towels, but they invariably dry out too soon.[p]Mary

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