French Bread

Appears in

The Robert Carrier Cookbook

By Robert Carrier

Published 1965

  • About

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 level tablespoon dry yeast
  • ¼ pint lukewarm water
  • pounds sifted plain flour
  • yellow cornmeal

Method

Combine butter, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ pint boiling water and stir until all is dissolved. Cool to lukewarm. In a separate bowl, sprinkle yeast over ¼ pint lukewarm water to soften. Stir; then strain into butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Now stir in flour, a quarter at a time. Beat until smooth, then add remaining flour little by little, working it in well with your hands.

Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead well until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a large, warm, buttered bowl, cover with waxed paper or foil, and with a piece of clean blanket, and leave to rise in a warm place, away from draughts and direct heat, for about 1½ hours, or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down with your fist and let it rise again until double in bulk - this time for about 1 hour.

Butter a large baking sheet and sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal (for a crunchy bottom crust). Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll each part into a rectangle 8 by 14 inches on a lightly floured board. Your dough should be so elastic at this point that it will resist rolling, but with a little effort this can be done. Roll the long side of the rectangle towards you in a tight neat roll - it should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Pull it into shape if necessary. Place the 3 long rolls, seam sides down, on prepared baking sheet, and let them rise until double in size.

Brush tops with cold water and make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes across each loaf. Bake loaves in a preheated moderately hot oven (400°F-M5) for 50 minutes to 1 hour, brushing the tops with cold water every 15 or 20 minutes.

Keep a shallow pan of hot water in the oven while loaves are baking. This, together with the frequent brushing with water, will give the good crisp crust of real French bread.