Need better French bread.

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Cooking4Fun

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https://www.melskitchencafe.com/french-bread/

Tried this recipe. Used all 6 cups of flour. Bread flour. I don't have standing mixer so mixed with hands. Used metal bowl greased with olive oil. Regreased to keep from sticking. Kneaded in bowl as I don't really have table space. If kneading increased dough density as internet says than debating as to whether I should have. It was super sticky to work with and folding instructions were confusing without photos. Baked in loaf pan as I don't think anything mentioned what to cook in.

Ultimately was moist and generic looking on inside. Looked same on inside as picture but nothing like the outside. I don't think my boning knife cut into the top at all.

I want bread much crisper, saltier, and with giant air pockets on inside. This bread was nothing like French bread in home economics class. Any ideas?
 

blissful

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French Bread needs a lot of surface area. Like long thin bread sticks. Salt mixed in the dough doesn't do much for flavor, but powder some salt and sprinkle it on the outside, and that will please your taste buds more.



Aren't there instructions to bake it with a bowl of water in the oven, then baste the bread during baking to thicken the crust....? Something like that.
 

Cooking4Fun

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French Bread needs a lot of surface area. Like long thin bread sticks. Salt mixed in the dough doesn't do much for flavor, but powder some salt and sprinkle it on the outside, and that will please your taste buds more.



Aren't there instructions to bake it with a bowl of water in the oven, then baste the bread during baking to thicken the crust....? Something like that.

It mentions simply throwing ice into bottom of oven which I didn't do as to spare oven.
 

dragnlaw

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LOL, I don't think I would recommend that thread! LOL

Didn't read your recipe but from what you've described and others have commented pretty much all I'm going to say. To put it in order.

Use a cookie sheet if you don't have a baking stone. Use parchment paper with a bit of corn meal to keep fom sticking on the sheet. Do your last rise on this sheet. (never mind the bread pan)

Place an old pan (I use a 9X13) on a lower rack to where you will bake. Fill this about half way with water and preheat to whatever temp was recommended.

After you slide your cookie sheet in the oven spritz it with water. If you don't have a spritzer you can just brush water over it before puttig in the oven.

I sometimes would spritze during the baking but I usually would forget.

So this is what I've done for crusty breads. Hope it works for you.

Let us know how it goes!
 

Cooking4Fun

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LOL, I don't think I would recommend that thread! LOL

Didn't read your recipe but from what you've described and others have commented pretty much all I'm going to say. To put it in order.

Use a cookie sheet if you don't have a baking stone. Use parchment paper with a bit of corn meal to keep fom sticking on the sheet. Do your last rise on this sheet. (never mind the bread pan)

Place an old pan (I use a 9X13) on a lower rack to where you will bake. Fill this about half way with water and preheat to whatever temp was recommended.

After you slide your cookie sheet in the oven spritz it with water. If you don't have a spritzer you can just brush water over it before puttig in the oven.

I sometimes would spritze during the baking but I usually would forget.

So this is what I've done for crusty breads. Hope it works for you.

Let us know how it goes!

Would this make it crispy on the inside? I was thinking the temp needed to go up to 400. Will there be bigger air pockets? I don't want it to be so dense.
 

dragnlaw

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Yes Larry... here we go again! :rofl

Everyon'es oven is different. You will have to experiment.

I have one recipe that starts off at 475 for 15 minutes then (don't open the door) down to 425 for anther 15 to 20 minutes. My crust gets very dark.

Some of my bubbles are extremely big, so I pinch the ones I see before baking.

Also had a recipe that used a Cast Iron pan in the bottom for the water. Never again! the mineral deposit left on the dry pan had to be cleaned and then re-season the poor thing.
 
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blissful

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I don't know what "would this make it crispy on the inside" means....you're gonna want to have a soft interior to the bread, big or small bubbles.

If you spritz it with water, it may be a crispy crust, but not in the interior of the bread.
If you want it a little salty, spritz it with a little salt water.
 

taxlady

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Six cups of flour? How many loaves does that make? I would start with no more than half that recipe, until I knew it would work for me.

I don't recommend a baking sheet until the person baking the bread is practised at folding the dough for a free form bread. The bread pan will keep the dough from spreading out into a bread that is wide and not very high. Guess how I know.
 

GotGarlic

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Six cups of flour? How many loaves does that make? I would start with no more than half that recipe, until I knew it would work for me.

I don't recommend a baking sheet until the person baking the bread is practised at folding the dough for a free form bread. The bread pan will keep the dough from spreading out into a bread that is wide and not very high. Guess how I know.

A loaf pan is not the right shape for this kind of bread, though. I've used a 9-inch cake pan and that works well.
 

karadekoolaid

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Copy that, GG.
This type of bread needs a baking sheet, not a loaf tin.
With the problems you´re experiencing, I´d immediately be thinking:
- how long did you knead the dough?
- how long did you leave it to prove?
- what temperature was your oven?

NB. A boning knife is for boning, unfortunately:LOL: so you´d better invest in a serrated edge bread knife.:):):)
 

summer57

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French bread, in my experience both in eating and making it, is as well-hydrated dough which means it's sticky, lots of bubbles, and it's a lean dough, so no oil or eggs in the dough. It's versatile, and I've added olives, ham & cheese, herbs etc. to the dough before baking. I've included a picture of a bread I made with sliced oil-cured black olives.

Well-hydrated: It's not easy to handle a sticky dough, but instead of oiling your hands, use water. Also use a spritz of water on your workbench. Wet hands work well with a sticky dough. I use the stretch and fold method rather than regular kneading, but it doesn't matter a lot.


Measuring: Rather than using cups of flour, try a recipe that uses weight measurements. A small scale doesn't cost much and is well-worth it.


Shaping: As others have said, don't use a loaf pan. I've used a banneton to shape the rising loaf, then put it on a heavy cookie sheet or pan.

Steam: Get a lot of steam in your oven. For example, I fill an 8" pyrex dish with dishcloths, then pour in boiling water and putting it in the bottom of the oven just before adding the loaves to the oven. I spritz the loaves and inside of the oven with more hot water at the start of cooking.

Storage:
French bread is lean, and goes stale quickly. I slice and freeze as soon as it's cool.

Here are some pictures of a loaf I made a while ago, the banneton & special Danish whisk I use when stirring wet doughs:
loaf.jpgslices.jpgbanneton.jpg

Recipe:
Here's a fairly standard French bread recipe to try:
https://www.npr.org/2009/11/24/120580907/recipe-classic-french-bread
 

Katie H

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Well, since my not-so-good friend "Arthur" has seen fit to plague my fingers and hands I have had to rely on my trusty bread machine to do the heavy lifting when it comes to kneading bread dough(s). Learned this from the good folks at King Arthur Baking who told me the bread machine does a better and more thorough job of kneading dough than our own two paws. Don't have to tell me twice.

Now, for making French bread. As some of our long-standing members might remember, I made more than 100 loaves for a friend for a fundraiser several years ago. The dining room table was stacked with fresh loaves like cord wood. Whoa, Nellie. I enjoyed it but had two bread machines and two bread pans working nonstop.

Okay, here's what I do. As for the water, I use bottled spring water because some areas I have lived in have had serious chlorine, etc. so, as I Alton Brown recommended for such situations, spring water is a good solution.

For 2 large (about 2 lbs.) loaves, combine the following ingredients in the pan of your bread machine:

1 2/3 cups water
2 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups bread flour, or by weight 1 pound, 9 ounces
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

Set your machine on the DOUGH cycle and let it do its magic.

Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and allow to rest about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and roll into a long rope, slash diagonally about 5 places, put into bread pan and wash the slashed loaves with some egg white that has been whisked.

Put into a pan that has been lightly greased and dusted with cornmeal. Place into the microwave that has had a cereal bowl filled with water and heated for 4 minutes on HIGH power. Leave the bowl in the microwave.

Allow the loaves to enjoy the moist and warm environment for about 1 hour.

Remove and bake at 400F for about 25 to 30 minutes. I find 25 is about the best.

Let the loaves rest for about 5 minutes and remove from the pan. Enjoy!

Here is the type of pan I use: https://www.amazon.com/KITESSENSU-N...ywords=french+bread+pan&qid=1655672667&sr=8-6
 
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blissful

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Katie H, thank you for the recipe and instructions. A friend of mine just asked me for information and pans for his birthday for french bread. So I copied all the information from your recipe that is tried and true! I appreciate it.
 

Katie H

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Katie H, thank you for the recipe and instructions. A friend of mine just asked me for information and pans for his birthday for french bread. So I copied all the information from your recipe that is tried and true! I appreciate it.

No problem. I've been baking all our bread products for years and one of my best tips is to use my microwave as a proofing box. Works perfectly. No drafts, nice and moist and warm, plus the bonus is you get the opportunity to wipe out a clean microwave. Win! Win!
 

blissful

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Katie H for my birthday this year, my friend sent me the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book. It's very interesting. I cook mostly with whole grains (I add a white pastry to very little of what I bake), otherwise it's all full whole grain.


There was one thing that stood out in that book that helped me with my breads. Whole wheat does have a little tiny bit of bitter flavor to it, and 3 T of orange juice to my recipe really does mellow out that tiny bit of bitter and still I can't taste the orange flavor. So I've added that to my almost weekly bread baking. I use my kitchen aid to knead the dough most of the time.
 

Cooking Goddess

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If you want a loaf of bread with big holes, maybe you could try making ciabatta bread. It's got a crisp crust, big holes. Might work for you. Lots of recipe choices on Google. I have not tried any of them, so can't recommend.
 

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