Authentic French loaves transport me to a European street side cafe. A chewy, crusty slice of french bread beckons me to cut into a wheel of Artisan Cheese and pour a huge glass of delicious wine. Nothing says 'I know how to live and eat well' than a meal like that!
The biggest complaint about American bread is that it is too much like cake. This rustic version is easy to make and requires no pre-ferment. Start to finish it takes about two hours so if you start by 4:00 you'll have fresh bread to serve with dinner. Light summer meals can easily contain only salad, cheese, bread and wine. In cooler weather substitute soup for the salad. Now you have no excuse not to turn every day into something spectacular.
Here are some of my Rustic French loaves cool and ready to package for the Farmers Market.
Basic French Loaves
3 Cups Warm Water
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Instant Yeast
8 Cups Unbleached Bread Flour
1 Egg White
Combine the first three ingredients, set aside until the yeast becomes frothy
Add flour and salt
Knead with an electric mixer for 7 minutes
Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour
Shape into 2 loaves, make four or five diagonal slashes on each loaf
Preheat oven to 400F
Let rise half an hour, brush with egg white
Bake 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown