French Bread (from Bread Maker to Oven)
This makes about 1 long French Bread loaf or 2 short loaves with several options. It also illustrates how to have a crusty or a soft crust, discusses storage, and other tips.
- Bread maker
- Rolling Pin
- 1⅔ cups buttermilk or 1⅓ cups milk (in place of every 1⅔ cups buttermilk)
- 3 tsp salt non-iodized, coarse or sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar can use plant-based sugar, if desired
- 4 cups bread flour
- 3 Tbsp. Vital Wheat Gluten optional (for more chewiness)
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil oil (or oil spray) for baking sheet
- 2 Tbsp. corn meal mix corn meal mix for baking sheet
- 1 medium egg Optional: Egg white whisked with 1 tsp water (only if softer crust is desired)
- 1/4 cup water Optional: water for oven (for steaming)
- Place all "Main Ingredients" in their order into the bread-maker (liquids first).
- Start the Bread maker using the standard "dough" setting. If using a Zojirushi dough maker, that setting is usually course # 11 (dough).
Shaping the Dough
- After the dough is ready, remove it from the Bread maker and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Make it into a rectangular shape about 24 inches long and about 8-12 inches wide.
- From the long side, roll it up to maintain the long length. Pinch the seam closed (using water as a sealant).
- You can make either one long loaf or divide it now into two for 12-inch loaves. On the ends of each dough loaf, fold them towards the main seam and pinch closed in the same manner as you managed the long seam.
Baking Sheet Preparation
- Lightly oil a baking sheet (olive oil or cooking spray).
- Sprinkle the sheet lightly with corn meal (maybe about 2 Tbsp.).
- Lay each dough loaf onto the baking sheet, seam side down. If there are 2 loaves, space them apart by about 3-inches minimum.
- For crusty results, lightly brush the top(s) with olive oil. Or, for softer crust, brush the top(s) with water or else with egg white (whisked with 1 tsp water).
- Cut angled slits on the top, about 3-inches apart and ½-inch deep.
- Cover the dough loaf/loaves with a cloth for about 40 minutes to rise about double in size.
- At an appropriate time before the "rise" period is over (possibly 15 minutes), set the oven to preheat to 375 degrees.
- Brush the tops again as before.
- Place the loaves baking sheet onto the middle shelf of the 375 degree preheated oven.
- OPTION: If the oven bottom is designed for allowing it, pour the referenced "water for oven" there. If not, place another baking sheet (or other baking container) with the water in it, below the middle shelf. The steaming effect will enhance the overall bread.
- Bake the loaf/loaves for about 25-35 minutes.
Serving After Baking
- Remove the item(s) from the oven. Place the French Bread onto a wire rack (or other surface for aerated cooling) to cool for about 10 minutes at least.
- IF SERVING NOW: For dipping in a seasoned oil, you can slice them anywhere from about 1/3 to 2/3-inch thick. For just standard French Bread slices, consider about 1-inch thick.
Storage and Re-usage
- FOR STORAGE: Any unsliced loaves or slices can be put into an appropriate bread bag for storage. Typically, you use a thinner bread bag for hard crusts and a thick bag for maintaining soft crusts. For freezing, if using a thin bread bag (for a hard crust), you'll possibly want to put that bagged bread also into a thicker plastic bag to avoid freezer burns and hard bread. Also, please know that the bakery chefs don't like the idea of refrigerating nor freezing baked bread, as it changes its consistency, longevity when thawed, and flavor. But, my wife and I are fine with it and do it all the time. I just ensure I use appropriate bagging for storage. We save valuable time, effort, and money. And it still tastes great to us!
- FOR THAWING AND SERVING: Remove the loaves from the freezer (or refrigerator) and leave them in their one bag (if you double-bagged, you can remove the outer one). After the bagged bread has set out for about 1-2 hours, they're ready for serving. Or, they can removed from all bags and heated in a 350 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes (on the oven shelf or on a baking sheet). You can optionally sprinkler (by hand) some water droplets across the loaves to aid in moisture retention.
This French Bread recipe makes 2 short loaves with several options. Or, it can be one long loaf by skipping the optional step of cutting the dough in half. It also illustrates how to have a crusty or a soft crust. This bread is super chewy and is excellent for subs, slices for dipping or garlic bread, or bulk tearing off chunks for serving. Vital Wheat Gluten is optional but it does add an extra level to its chewiness. There are notes for dry and cold storage as well.
Calories: 109kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 328mgPotassium: 55mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 41IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 1mg