Basic French Bread Recipe
(Makes 2 pounds of dough. Great for baguettes.)
Recipe by Emily Buehler in folk school baking class. This recipe uses ingredients measured by weight (grams) and make fabulous baguettes, rolls, and buns every time!
- Sprouted Wheat Flour – 193g or 1 ¾ cups
- Water – 193g + 6 tablespoons or 1 ¼ cups
- Yeast – pinch or ¼ teaspoon
- Sprouted Wheat Flour – 387g or 2 ½ cups
- Poolish – all
- Water – 213g or 1 cup
- Yeast – 3g or ¾ teaspoon
- Salt – 12g or 2 teaspoons
- Mix poolish the night before (it rises for 12-14 hours in 70°F room). Cover well with plastic wrap.
- Mix dough (using glass, ceramic, or stainless bowl)
- Weigh out water separately
- Weigh flour, measure yeast and mix into flour
- Add polish and most of water; rest of water depends on dough stickiness. (lean toward sticky). Blend ingredients enough to get all of flour incorporated.
- Let dough sit for 30 minutes (this is called autoleasing). Cover dough with plastic wrap to prevent drying.
- Remove dough from bowl onto floured counter or kneading board. Pat down to pop bubbles. Sprinkle salt onto dough.
- Knead dough until strong but flexible (Windowpane test is a good indicator. See baking tips for this month). This will take 12-15 minutes by hand.
- Oil your cleaned bowl and place dough (turn to coat both sides) into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until poofy (about 1 hour for 75°F dough).
- (Optional step) Place dough on kneading board and punch down. Fold 4 times (don’t knead) and place back in bowl for 2nd rise (about 1-1 ½ hours)
- Preheat oven to 500°F. For best baking results let oven preheat for 1 hour, especially if you’ve placed a baking stone (pizza stone) in oven.
- (Optional step) Divide dough in half and pre-shape into baguettes. Cover and let them rest until relaxed (about 15-20 minutes).
- Shape dough (final tightening of dough into baguette shape).
- Place baguettes onto parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and rise somewhere warm until full of gas (about 45 mintues).
- Score (cut) the dough and steam it by wetting the surface (I use a spray bottle of water).
- Quickly put dough into oven and turn temperature to 460°F.
- Bake 20-25 minutes. DO NOT open oven door for first 15 minutes.
- At 20 minutes test for doneness by inserting a thermometer into center of bread. Should read 190 – 206°F.
- Remove bread from oven. Immediately transfer to a cooling rack and let cool before slicing.