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French Bread dough

There are probably as many bread dough recipes as there are authors.  However, the strong tradition of French bakery fixed guidelines a long time ago.  The method described in this article can be considered one of the traditional preparation for everyday French bread.
You will certainly find it difficult to have the equipment to reach the critical crust forming temperature.  However, using a simple water spray and flour you may get a decent result.
Time needed 7 h preparation, 35’ cooking.

Bread dough is composed of“levain”, prepared a day earlier, and blended to flour, water, and yeast on the day.

Ingredients for levain

  • 56 g flour (the one you like, it will give its unique flavour to your bread)
  • 66 ml water
  • 3 g baker’s yeast (fresh if possible)

Ingredients for the dough

  • 125 g levain
  • 584 g flour
  • 374 ml water
  • 10 g fresh yeast
  • 12 g salt
  • A water spray bottle

Préparation

- Levain
(the day before) dilute yeast in some of the water, blend ingredients, let raise for 3 hours between 26 C et 30 C (79 to 82 F).
Squash (using your fist, repeatedly, to let the CO2 out).
Keep cool for 12 h (well not you, the pastry!).

- Bread
Dilute yeast in some of the water
Salt flour.
Blend the solid ingredients and the yeasty water using a heavy-duty food processor.  Set speed to slow, and use the dough bit.
Knead the dough adding the rest of the water progressively until a ball forms and doesn’t stick to the bown anymore.
Integrate levain.

Let A be the following sequence:
Let dough raise for 30’
Break dough using fist
Knead.
Repeat A twice

Cuisson

Shape the dough into the desired form, and let it raise one last time between 2 hours and 2 hours and a half in a warm place.
Preheat oven to maximum temperature.
Using a sharp knife, slash the surface of the bread in a regular, if possible aesthetic, shape.  It’s less for its style than to let the large quantities of steam out that you must perform this.
Dust the bread with flour before putting it in the oven. Spray water in the oven itself before closing the door (#167;some put a shallow plate of water in the oven itself, on a separate grill.  It takes a humid atmosphere for the bread to cook in a delayed fashion, and not to develop its crust too early, thus allowing the inside to cook and get rid of its water just in time.  It will also help creating the nice golden crust that is specific to French bread.
Gradually decrease temperature, on a ramp pattern, over the whole cooking time (180 C, 355 F).
Total cooking time should be around 35-45’.
Take bread out of the oven and dust it.  Let it cool down while stored vertically, to allow the bread to sweat once more, thus not getting too damp.
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created 09 July 2011
revised 22 February 2017 by
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