My family spent some time in France during the 1980’s. While we got to know and love many things. Expresso. Parks. Museums. Bottled water which was big there, before we even knew about it. We developed a rather acute fondness for French Bread, especially my son. He was a toddler during that time. If we went out for any period of time, all I had to do was give him a bottle of water and a petit baguette. He was a happy camper! LOL!
I learned that in France, that there is a law that says French bread is only French bread if it is made from flour, salt, yeast, and water. And French bread is a priced controlled food so that it can be readily available. They do consider it the “staff of life”. For more information on the history of French bread: http://www.lepetitfrancais.com/history
French bread is not that difficult to make. With a bread machine, it’s a breeze. This recipe is about the closest you will bet to what French bread is like in France.
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dry milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 egg white, whisked with 1 tablespoon cold water (to be brushed near end of baking)
Add first 8 ingredients to the bread machine.
Use the dough cycle. Spray or lightly oil a large cookie sheet; sprinkle with cornmeal.
When the dough cycle is done, take out dough and put it on a lightly floured surface. Punch down to let air escape, form into loaves, cover, and let rise again (45 minutes to 1 hour).
I use a special bread pan that I bought from Kitchen Collection. You can bake two loaves of bread at once. They get extremely crusty with a soft inside. That is what you want!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place a pie plate on the lower rack of the oven; add about 1 inch of boiling water to the pie plate. Cut the top of the bread four times. this allows the bread to expand more. Bake bread for 15 minutes; lower heat to 350°. Bake for another 25 minutes. About 5 minutes before loaves are done, brush with egg white and water mixture.
Please don’t forget the glaze! Doesn’t this look better?