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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Make French Bread with Madelaine

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I made this using my own modified version of a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Feel free to follow their version or mine. It has differences, but they're not drastically different.

make this the night before - can easily be done right before bed
1 ½ Cups White Bread Flour (or All Purpose Flour)
½ tsp. Active Dry Yeast (or instant yeast)
1 Cup Warm Water (around 100°F)

Place flour in a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Pour water in and mix together until creamy (it won't be dough, more like a thick batter). Cover with plastic and let sit out overnight.

1 Cup Warm Water (around 100°F)
¾ tsp. Active Dry Yeast (or ½ tsp. Instant Yeast)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Cups Bread Flour (or All Purpose)
1 tsp. Salt

Add yeast, sugar and water to the starter (which will be puffy and bubbly) and mix. Add flour and salt (be sure to mix the salt with the flour a bit - as salt will kill yeast if mixes directly with it) and roughly mix. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour the dough (and extra flour left over in the bowl) onto your counter and knead together. This should take about ten minutes. Add a bit more flour if it's too sticky, or a bit of water if it's too dry. It should be smooth and elastic. Place in a very well-greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled - this can very greatly on the temperature of the room it's in.

After the dough has doubled, very gently remove it from the bowl and degas a bit (don't flatten or punch all the gas out), you don't half to actually do anything, as removing and cutting it will remove a good bit of the bubbles. Cut in half, and very gently form each into a loaf. Do this by pushing the sides around and to the back of the loaf and pinching or pressing very firmly together to make a seam. Place the loaf gently on a piece of parchment. Repeat for other loaf.

Put the loaves in a couche. You can make your own couche using a piece of fabric and some boxes (like little boxes of macaroni or crackers). Place the parchment on the cloth and push up the edges of the cloth and hold them there with on box on either side. Repeat for the other loaf. This will help the loaves rise up and not out - resulting in a loaf that has height and is not flat.

Let rise again until puffy, but not quite doubled. Slash top of loaves with razor blade (yes, it has to be that sharp) and dust with flour. Slide onto a cookie sheet (I put two loaves on one large airbake sheet) or baking stone. Bake in a preheated 475°F oven for 15 minutes, steaming four or five times. Reduce heat to 425° and bake for 20-30 minutes or until down (rich golden brown with an un-soggy bottom).

STEAM AT YOUR OWN RISK. To steam, pour hot water into an empty metal pan in the bottom of the oven or use a clean spray bottle with water to mist the oven. Be very careful not to hit the light bulb, the door or anything else that is glass - hot glass will shatter if any water hits it. Close the door immediately. Steaming is not recommended for some modern ovens, as steam can get into the electronics and mess up your oven. I have a modern oven and have been risking it, and nothing has gone wrong yet, just be careful. An alternative to steaming your oven is to spray your loaves with a bit of water (from a water spritzer) right before putting them in the oven. It won't have the same effect, but it will help.



jkziel said...

Yum. Your bread looks delicious. Where is your article of clothing you made? I wanna see it. Congrats--way to tackle a toughie too--breaking it out for clothes, no pillow cases or flannel blankets for you--straight to the good stuff.

Miss Madelaine said...

Thank you! I haven't made a post about my dress yet because I haven't had a chance to model/photograph it properly. I hope to show it off in the next few days, though. :)

miznyc said...

ooh that looks yummy. I can't wait until my son is a little older so he can be my little cooking assistant. He already is my metalsmithing assistant.

I too came to see your clothing. lol.

And then I saw my little basket sitting in your corner. How sweet!
I'm glad you like it! :D

Waterrose said...

I can't steam in my oven, so I have a few towels that I use to steam bread. I wet the towel, place it in a basket/bowl put the bread in covering the bread with the flaps, in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and it comes out perfectly steamed.