Introduction: Bread Machine French Bread

About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
I have been unsuccessful in the making of French bread until recently.  That is when I got a second hand bread machine and found this recipe on the internet, found here:    Success!!!  I have learned to love my bread machine.  I don’t ever bake my bread in it; I just mix the dough in it.  Then I put the rolls, French bread, wheat bread, etc. in my pans and bake them in my own oven.  It’s the best.  Here is a great way to make homemade French bread.

Step 1:

Bread machine
Baking sheet
Rolling Pin
Pie pan
Pastry brush
1½ cups water
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. dry milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1 egg white, whisked with 1 Tbs. cold water

Step 2:

Remove the mixing pan from the bread machine.  Make sure the blade is in the pan

Step 3:

Add the water,

Step 4:

then the oil,

Step 5:

then the sugar, salt and dry milk.  Food Science Lesson #1:  Why use dry milk?  Fresh milk has enzymes that will kill the yeast.  So you can never use fresh milk in bread making.  That is why you will find that recipes that use milk, will require you to scald the milk, then, let it cool.  The scalding kills the enzymes, and the cooling keeps the heat from killing the yeast.  Dried milk has no active enzymes and you can add it to cool/warm not hot water.

Step 6:

Add the all-purpose flour and bread flour.  Food Science Lesson #2:  Why the bread flour (this also answers the why knead the dough)?  Bread needs the flour protein, called gluten, to rise up light and stay that way.  Gluten when developed, forms longs elastic strings.  These strings, because they are elastic allow them to stretch when the yeast does its job.  Bread flour has more gluten, so it has more stretch for lighter bread, and we all like light French bread.  If you don’t have or can’t find bread flour, just add 2 Tbs. vital gluten (found on the baking isle) to the flour.  That will do it.

Step 7:

In the top of the flour make a hole and put yeast in the hole.  Food Science Lesson #3:  How does yeast work?  Yeast is a living organism that eats sugars and complex carbs (flour).  When it eats, it produces the by-products of alcohol and CO2.  The CO2 gas needs a place to go so it creates little and sometimes larger, spaces in the bread, and that causes the gluten to stretch and the bread to rise, the little holes you find in the bread is where the gas was, until baking released the gas, cooked out the alcohol and hardened the gluten.  

Step 8:

Put the mixing pan in the bread machine

Step 9:

and set the machine on the dough, then start.  Let it run the whole time (for my machine it is 1hour 20 min.).  The machine will mix, knead and then help the dough to rise.

Step 10:

Remove the dough from the machine.  Punch down the dough (remove the gases released by the yeast).  

Step 11:

Put it on a lightly floured surface, and roll the dough to form a long oval shape.

Step 12:

Starting along the long end and roll together (like for cinnamon rolls), it will form a French bread loaf shape. Pinch the edges together

Step 13:

and place the bread a greased baking sheet pinched side down. Take a sharp knife and score the top of the loaf.  Let it rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Step 14:

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Place a pie plate with 1 inch boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven.  Food Science Lesson #4:  Why do you need water in the oven?    This is how the chewy crust around the soft tasty center is formed.  The hot steam created by the water in the oven, makes the crust just a little tougher than it would be in a steam free oven. 

Step 15:

Bake for 15 minutes, then, lower the heat to 350° and bake for another 20 minutes.

Step 16:

Remove the loaf from the oven and then brush with the egg white/water mixture and bake for 5 more minutes.  The egg white will give the crust that glossy look.

Step 17:

Remove and if you are the type that enjoys a slice of hot bread with butter and/or jam, go right ahead.  Yum!  Enjoy!
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