Sunday, May 18, 2014

French Bread

So Chad is normally the bread maker in our family, but I didn't want him to have to do any of the work to get ready for his own birthday, so he was kind enough to guide me through the process! Here's how it went!


1000g of flour
5g of yeast
25g of salt
650g of water

When it comes to bread-making I love measuring my ingredients using a scale. It's fool proof. I once experimented with different ways of measuring flour. I tried the scoop and level method, the scoop and shake method, and the spoon in and then level method. Between the 3 different methods there was a little less than a 100g difference. That is a big deal in bread making!

1. I started out by placing my kitchen-Aid bowl on my scale and zeroing it out.

 2. In goes 1000g of flour.

3. Add 5g of yeast.

4. Add 25g of salt

5. Next use a large container to measure 650g of water. Make sure to zero out your scale first.

6. Give the dry ingredients a quick mix.
7. Slowly add the water to the dry ingredients with the mixer set to the lowest level using a dough hook until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixer.

Kitchen-Aid recommends never going above a level 1 while making bread. They also say that the Kitchen-Aid is a very efficient kneader, so the minute the bread starts to ball and pull away from the sides there is no need to keep kneading. 

8. Pull the dough off the hook, flip it upside down and knead for 30 sec.

9. Form a ball and let the dough sit covered with a plastic shopping bag for 20 min. 

10. Knead for 1 minute and let rise for 2 hours in a covered bowl. This time can be fudged a little. A minimum of 2 hours is needed, but you can go over if you aren't quite ready to handle your dough. The next rising is much more important.

11. Divide the dough into 4 balls and let them sit in covered bowls for exactly 45 min. Fudging this time can lead to disastrous results!

12. Dump your dough balls out one at a time onto a lightly floured work surface handling the dough as little as possible. For this part of the process I used a couche. For more info on couches click here or here.

Start by turning your bowl upside down and gently pulling the dough ball out onto the lightly floured work surface so that what was the top of your ball in the bowl is now facing down. Next pick the dough ball up off the floured work surface and onto your counter top keeping the floured side down. Flour your hands and gently press on the outer edges of the dough forming a circular mound.

13. Bring up the outer edges and fold in half pinching the ends together creating a seam.

14. Next gently roll it back and forth a few times to form your bread. Flip it over seam side down and it should look something like this.

15. Place your dough into the couche folding the fabric up and in between each of the loaves. 

16. Tuck them away, Nighty Nigh, in a darkened cabinet or somewhere away from light and Air flow. Let your bread rise for 25 min. 

17. While you are waiting preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a pan that can hold water on the bottom shelf of your oven.

18. Score your bread holding your knife at about a 15 degree angle to the bread so that you are slicing at an angle into the bread and not straight down.

19. Move your bread to a pan and place it similarly to this.

20. Place them in the oven on the middle shelf and pour 3/4 Cup of water into the pan on the bottom shelf. Bake for 15 minutes.

21. Your bread is firm enough now to slide it off of the pan and onto the middle rack of your oven. Remove the water pan.

22. Lower the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes or until your loaves are a golden brown.

23. Let your loaves cool on a cooling rack. Can you here them crackling? This is a sign of a good crust! Shhh, Listen :-)

Enjoy! You deserve it. I highly recommend slicing it, buttering it, and dipping it into some hot chocolate like the french do. Click here for a great hot chocolate recipe (minus the candy cane and cinnamon)!

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