Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dutch oven French bread

Blog No. 17 brings you the French bread recipe that I baked for the El Dorado Western Railway Christmas social ...

This recipe uses the straight dough method where the ingredients are scaled and mixed in one step. You can use the sponge dough method to develop a more complex flavor-texture profile.

A sponge dough is produced in two steps. The yeast is first mixed with all or part of the liquid and part of the flour.

After mixing into a thick batter, the dough is allowed to ferment until double in bulk, often overnight. The remaining ingredients are mixed into the sponge. The remaining steps follow the recipe.


This recipe makes a 5-pound dough. If desired, divide dough into three 1-pound 10-1/2-ounce portions. Form a traditional loaf by starting with longer side, roll up tightly, pressing dough into roll with each turn. Pinch edges and ends to seal.

Place on greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and proof until double in size. Bake in a 425-deg. oven for 25-30 minutes until brown. Spray or brush loaf with cold water several times during baking for a crisp crust.

8/10 ounces active-dry yeast
1 pound warm water (110-deg. F.)
1 ounce granulated sugar
13 ounces warm water
1 ounce shortening
8/10 ounce salt
3 pounds bread flour

Combine yeast, 1-pound water and sugar in a 10-quart mixer bowl. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add 13 ounces warm water, shortening and salt to yeast mixture. Mix until blended, using dough hook. Add flour and mix on low speed to blend. Increase mixer speed to medium and knead for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and is elastic.

Let dough ferment in warm place for about 2 hours, or until double in bulk. Punch down dough by pulling the dough up on all sides, folding over the center and pressing down, then turning over in the bowl.

Divide into five portions, 16 ounces each. On lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a ball. Place in a 8-quart Dutch oven sprinkled with cornmeal. Proof until double in bulk. With sharp knife, make two or three diagonal slashes across top of loaf.

Evenly pour 1/4-cup water over rounds. Cover and bake at 450-deg. for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350-deg. for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 5 loaves.

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