French Bread


1 cup cool-lukewarm water
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour.
1/4 cup white or whole wheat flour

Stir ingredients together to make a thick mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let set at room temperature overnight, or for 2-16 hours.

Dough for French bread
All of the sponge starter (above)
1 cup lukewarm water
3/4 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 3/4 to 4 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp kosher salt

Stir sponge, add water, yeast, 3 1/3 cups of the flour and salt. Mix. Dough will be loose. Let rest for about 12 minutes, then knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the held-back flour as needed.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with both lightly greased plastic wrap and a damp cloth, and rise until almost doubled.

After rising, deflate dough but be gentle so as to retain some of the bubbles. The bubbles will make the holes that you want in recipe French bread.

Rise the dough for on a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.

Tip: For better results, and to get that authentic recipe French bread with deep ridges and a dusting of flour around the middle, I recommend that you use a dough rising basket (lightly dusted with flour.) . The Frieling Oval Brotform Bread Mold 10.5" x 7" is a good choice.

Rise the dough for recipe French bread until almost doubled and puffy looking. When risen, make slashes across the top of the bread -- but gently, so as not to deflate.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, placing your baking stone in the oven to preheat also. When ready, gently place recipe French bread dough on the stone, seam side down.

Spray water into the oven. A plant sprayer works fine.

Place your bread in the oven, reduce heat to 425 degrees, and spray with water every few minutes for 15 minutes. Stop spraying and bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, or until done.

Enjoy your recipe French bread. It's especially delicious served with a soft French cheese like the aged Mimolette.

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