You've been hanging on every post waiting for the next installment in the saga.
I just know it.
This month's candidate for the French bread I've been searching for comes from Tony Chachere's Cajun Country Cookbook.
I chose Tony's recipe because of the title: Hard Crust French Bread
Hard crust is what I'm after, after all.
is a pretty standard bread dough.
It's what you do after you shape the loaves that differs.
Last time, I used a pan of water in the oven (to create steam) to try to get a crispy crust--which didn't really happen.
In this recipe, the unbaked loaves are brushed with egg whites to give them that golden shine and to help crisp the crust. Which did happen.
That is, until I was impatient and stored the uneaten bread in a plastic bag. Before it was thoroughly cooled. In case you didn't know, moisture beats crispy crust every time. And impatience in the kitchen leads to results you don't want.
In case you didn't know.
This second attempt at the French bread I've been searching for had crust that was more like what I want (before the plastic bag issue). Crispy crust that shatters if you hit it with the handle of a knife. The crumb could have been fluffier though. It was dense, though had a good flavor.
Overall, I liked Tony's Hard Crust French Bread
more than the French Loaves I made last month.
Hard Crust French Bread
adapted from Tony Chachere's Cajun Country Cooking
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
7 cups flour, sifted (I used 6 to 6 1/2)
2 egg whites, well beaten (I used 1 egg white)
In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Let sit about 5 minutes. Gradually stir in the salt and sifted flour. Mix until well blended. Knead for 10 minutes on a well-floured surface until dough is smooth and satiny. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough and place on a floured surface. Knead 3-4 times to remove air and divide into two pieces.
Shape each piece into a loaf and place on well-greased pans. Make 4 slash marks across the tops of each loaf and brush with egg white. Let rise until doubled. Preheat oven to 450 F.
Bake loaves for 15 minutes at 450 F (or 30 minutes at 350 F). Remove from pans and cool.