Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two Loaves - Fannie Farmer French Bread

These two photos are from two different loaves of french bread. I made the dough together and refrigerated one and baked it the next day. The first was made fresh and the second was from the dough that came out of the refrigerator.
These were not baguettes. The only way I can really describe them is as the type of french bread that is perfect for soup or a french bread pizza, but ultimately they were not baguettes. Everyone who tired them though agreed that both loaves were delicious. Being my own harshest critic I felt the second loaf was inferior to the first because as I rolled the dough I did not pinch it enough and the dough had a ring in the center as the layers rose. The first loaf had a great crumb and perfect crust. It was used for an awesome french onion soup. Gail and I visited our friend Sharon, of Thyme to Cook Personal Chef Service for dinner, and she showed Gail how to make the French Onion Soup from Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home. This type of bread was perfect to slice up for use in the soup.
The recipe for this 'French' bread comes from an old printing of The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook dated 1975. It makes a loaf with a nice golden crust that is not too dense. A good loaf to practice with and adapt.

French Bread
makes 2 or 3 loaves
These long thin loaves with chewy crisp crusts are perfect for French or Italian style meals. If you like shape part of the dough into small rolls. This dough is also good for English muffins or pizza.

Put in a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package yeast
Let stand 5 minutes. Add:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (I used butter)
Stir well. Add:
  • 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
Beat thoroughly with a rotary beater or an electric mixer. Add:
  • 1 cup flour (or enough to make a stiff dough)
Sprinkle a board with flour. Put the dough on it and let rest 10 minutes. Knead well, let rise, punch down and let rise again.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface and divide into two or three parts. Let rest 10 minutes. Flatten each part with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thickness. Roll up each sheet of dough tightly to make a long slender loaf. Press firmly along the rolled edges to seal. Sprinkle cookie sheets with:
  • Corn meal
Put the loaves on the sheets leaving enough space between them so that they will be crusty on all sides. Cut diagonal gashes in the loaves about 1/2 inch deep. Beat together:
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Brush over the top of the loaves. Let rise until double in bulk (about 1 hour).
Put a large pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven with the pans of bread on a rack above. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Brush again with egg mixture Reduce the heat to 375 F and bake until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it (about 25 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.

The recipe above is at is presented in the cookbook. Obviously give some time for the oven to warm up and to boil the water before you bake the bread. As I said at the top of the post, I make one loaf fresh and refrigerated the other one. Though the recipe claims this can make 2 or 3 loaves I think 2 is more accurate, as 3 loaves would be fairly small. As a note, I had better results with the loaf that was made fresh then with the dough from the fridge, but both had a pretty nice crumb and a great crust.

(submitted to yeastspotting)


Robin said...

I have been experimenting with different recipes for french bread recently. This one sounds great. I'm definitely going to give it a try next week since I just made two loaves yesterday.

I am assuming that you used active dry yeast?

Fred said...

Robin - I did use active dry yeast. If you try the recipe be sure to let me know how it turns out!