French Bread/ Baguettes


French Bread/ Baguettes
Makes one loaf French bread or 2 Baguettes
interesting tidbit: *NO FAT*
Ingredients
  • 2.5-3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons water

Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, yeast and salt. Stir in warm water, and beat 30 seconds until well blended using a stand mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead until no longer sticky-- 5 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.**Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Flatten with rolling pin into large rectangle. Roll up jellyroll style, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
  4. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on [ I like to add a  bit of seasoning to the wash, for instance: garlic powder and rosemary]. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 20-30 minutes.
  5. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/2 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until bread tests done [sounds hollow when tapped on top] . If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

For baguettes: divide dough in half and lower cook time to 15-20 minutes total.

TIP: for crispy, crunchy crust try throwing a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven just after you put the bread in the oven. It makes the crust really crunchy with a nice chewy middle.

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