How to bake the perfect French loaf
One of the undisputed glories of France is fresh bread. Bakeries are not permitted to use preservatives so boulangeries must bake fresh bread several times a day! Here’s our recipe for the perfect French Loaf:
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with 2 cups water, 3 cups flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Divide dough half. Roll each half into a 9 x 12 rectangle and roll up jelly roll style, starting at long edge. Seal edges and place seam side down on a large baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Use a sharp knife to slash each loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.