Blue ribbon french bread

Yield: 32 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 pack Active dry yeast
2 tablespoons Nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
4 cups All-purpose flour; up to 5 cups
2 cups Hot water; (120- to 130-degrees F)
1 tablespoon Butter; room temperature
1 tablespoon Cold water
1 tablespoon Coarse salt

In a large mixing or mixer bowl, stir together yeast, dry milk, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Pour in the hot water and add the butter. Blend for 2 minutes with the flat beater of the mixer. Stir in the balance of the flour, ½ cup at a time, switchig to the dough hook after about 1 additional cup of flour has been added. The dough will be a shaggy mass, elastic, but not sticky; it will clean the sides of the bowl. If it continues to be moist, sprinkle on additional flour.

Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer to Speed 2 and knead for 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap to retain moisture, and leave at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1-¼ hours.

Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 30 seconds to press out the bubbles, cut into two pieces, and form each into a ball.

For a round loaf, place the dough on a corner of a greased or Teflon baking sheet or in a small basket, lined loosely with a cloth and sprinkled with flour.

For a long loaf, roll the ball into a rectangle, about 10" x 16". Roll the dough until your palms into a long loaf which can be placed directly on a greased or Teflon baking sheet or in a long cloth-lined basket. Later, after it has risen, it will be trned from the basket directly onto the baking sheet.

Cover the loaves carefully with waxed paper and place in a warm place.

Leave until doubled in volume, about 45 to 50 minutes (I've found its usually longer).

Prepare the oven by placing a large, shallow roasting pan under the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F. about 20 minutes before baking. Three minutes before placing the loaves in the oven, pour 1 pint hot water in the pan . Be areful of the steam that will suddenly erupt.

If the loaves have raised in baskets, simply tip the raised loaf into your hand and quickly turn the loaf right side up and onto the baking sheet.

Brush with cold water and sprinkle with the coarse salt (or sesame seeds or poppy seeds).

With a razor blade or a sharp knife, slash the round loaves with a tic-tac-toe design, the long loaves with diagonal cuts.

Bake the loaves until they are golden brown, 45 minutes. Turn over one loaf and tap the bottom crust; a hard hollow sound means the bread is baked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Midway during baking and again near the end of t, shift the loaves on the baking sheets so they are exposed equally to the temperature variations of the oven.

Remove the loaves from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool.

NOTES : This is a smooth, creamy, crusty bread. Submitted by Cathy Lielausis.

Recipe by: Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads Posted to TNT Recipes Digest by "cathylielausis@..." <cathylee@...> on Mar 20, 1998

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