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French bread recipe

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  • French bread recipe

    We recently moved into a new house and in the process I've misplaced my recipe for these rustic french bread loaves. It was on the back of the label on this Williams Sonoma goldtouch french bread pan.

    Does anyone have one of these pans or the recipe that came with it (or something similar)? My DH loves it and I usually make them when guests are coming by along with fresh pesto. It's a white bread recipe so I don't eat much of it but everyone else loves it.
    Do not dwell in the past,
    do not dream of the future,
    concentrate the mind on the present moment.

    -Lord Buddha

  • I've got a couple, but this is my favorite... This one is a wholegrain/wheat one. I've got a white one too if you are interested. It's A LOT of work...

    Rustic Wholegrain French-Style

    Starter Dough:

    ** 2 tsp active dry yeast
    ** ¼ c warm water
    ** 1¼ c room temperature water
    ** ½ c rye flour
    ** ½ c whole wheat flour
    ** 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour


    ** 1 tsp active dry yeast
    ** ¼ c warm water
    ** all of Starter Dough
    ** ¾ to 1 c room temperature water
    ** 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (more or less)
    ** 1 Tbsp salt

    Starter Dough

    On the night before you are going to make bread, in a small bowl, mix the yeast in the lukewarm water (do the baby's bottle test on your wrist) and make sure that it bubbles (about 10 minutes).

    In a bowl large enough for the Starter Dough to triple, stir together the 3 types of flour with a wooden spoon. Add the water and the yeasted water and stir well until it has the consistency of pancake batter.

    Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the Starter Dough rise in a no-draught cool room for 6 to 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.


    In a small bowl, mix the yeast in ¼ c lukewarm water and make sure that it bubbles (about 10 minutes).

    Add the rest of the water to the Starter Dough bowl (if the Starter Dough has been refrigerated, allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour before starting) and mix well. Let your hands be your friends by squeezing the dough between your fingers.

    Put all but ½ c of the flour into a large mixing bowl (enough for the final dough to triple in volume. Add the starter dough and water. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until there are no dry bits of flour left and a rough dough has formed. Cover with plastic and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Scatter some of the remaining flour on a flat surface for kneading. Turn the dough out onto the board. Sprinkle the salt over the dough which should be rather slack.

    Wash and dry the bowl. (Do not skip this step)

    Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, using a dough scraper. Add a little flour but don't be afraid to get one hand covered in dough. The dough should be quite moist. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and pulls easily away from your hand and the board.

    Place dough in the clean dry mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a no-draught spot on the counter for 20 minutes. Lightly sprinkle the board with flour (there might still be some remaining from that half cup; otherwise use a little more) and gently turn the dough out, trying not to disturb any bubbles. Fold the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn the dough over and fold in half once more. Place it back in the bowl smooth side up. Cover with plastic. Let it ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step twice. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) After the final step, let the dough rise undisturbed in the no-draught spot on the counter til doubled - about 1 to 2 hours depending on the room temperature.

    When dough has doubled, gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Flatten it gently (try not to disturb the bubbles); fold the outer edges to the middle. Repeat by folding dough 4 or 5 times until you have formed a round. Place on a parchment covered baking tray - or peel if you have one. Sprinkle flour liberally over the loaf. Cover with plastic and allow to rise for about 1 hour til almost double. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge - it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.

    Half an hour before you will be baking the bread, place baking stone on the second shelf from the bottom of the oven and turn oven to 450F. Put water into a broiling pan and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, it's still a good idea to preheat the oven for a substantial amount of time.

    Optional step: Just before baking, slash the top of loaf with a very sharp knife at a perpendicular angle. Do this only if the bread has risen to almost half. If it has risen higher, the bread has a tendency to fall if slashed.

    Spray the bread liberally with water. Place bread in oven and immediately turn oven down to 400F; bake the loaf for 50-60 minutes until hollow sounding on the bottom. It's a good idea to turn the bread after about 20 minutes of baking to allow for uneven heat in the oven. Remove parchment paper at the same time if you are using a stone.

    Turn off the oven. Put the finished bread back in the oven and leave with the door ajar for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove to cool upended on cooling rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely.


    • wow that sounds complicated but mmmmm good


      • Yeah - that recipe is very overwhelming, it only gets made every once in a while. This one is a lot easier. Can't beat the smell of baking bread.

        Rustic French Bread Recipe


        3/4 cup white flour
        1/2 cup warm water
        1/2 tsp yeast


        4 1/2 cups flour
        2 cups warm water
        1 tsp salt


        Make Sponge first

        Use active yeast and mix with water first to proof it. After 5 minutes, mix in flour with plastic or wood utensil until starter leaves side of bowl. Put starter aside and cover i.e. mason jar. Let sit at least 6 hours in warm place until it triples, refrigerate if not using right away. If you refigerate, take out one hour before use to bring to room temp.

        Mix in 4 1/2 cups of flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat and the rest white), water, starter, salt. Knead for about 10 minutes. Dough should be sticky, but not stick to your hands. Place in lightly oiled bowl and turn over once to coat.

        Let rise until double in bulk (about 2-3 hours).

        Punch down and shape into 2 loaves on 2 cookies sheets dusted with flour.

        Place in warm place. Let rise until double.

        Preheat oven to 450. Place a small pan on lower shelf to hold 2 cups of boiling water. Score top of loaves with and x.

        Place boiling water in pan on lower shelf, place loaves on center shelf and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown all over.

        Turn off oven and let sit for 10 minutes to develop crust. Take out and let cool off on cooling rack.


        • Thanks for the recipes Lana, I'm going to try both. As a side note, I have some sourdough starter starting now. I just love the smell of flour and water as it gets sour. haha
          Do not dwell in the past,
          do not dream of the future,
          concentrate the mind on the present moment.

          -Lord Buddha


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