Feb 25, 2013

The Crust {more from my French Bread hunt}

Did you think I forgot about my French Bread Quest?

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.

The dough

is a pretty standard bread dough.

It's what you do after you shape the loaves that differs.

Last timeI 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.

Wrap Up:
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. 

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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.

linking with:
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  1. I will give Tony's a try too, was it too hard/dense for a muffaletta? The grocery store stuff just doesn't work on a muffaletta and I'm suddenly hungry for one!

  2. Hi Michelle! Thanks for stopping by my blog! This bread looks so good. I don't even remember that last time I had french bread because I have a gluten allergy. Eat an extra piece for me!
    Beth @ The First Year Blog

  3. A chunk of good cheese, a bottle of good wine and I am set for the evening.


  4. One of my favorite homemade breads!

  5. This bread looks great~ One of my biggest downfalls....I love bread!! Nothing better than a slice of warm bread with home made jam!! Will definitely give this a try! Lynn

  6. I have been wanting to make french bread for a long time.. I just might have to do it now. Stopping by from In and Out of the kitchen

  7. What a pretty loaf of bread you made! I'm sure it was delicious before and after the plastic bag incident. I love a big hunk of bread with a steamy bowl of soup. Thanks your visit recently.

  8. awesome!!! I love crunchy bread.... and yes.. moisture beats crust :o) Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays @ Nap-Time Creations. So glad you stopped by! Emily

  9. This is definitely a post for me.
    I looooooooove bread, although I usually bake only Challahs (but every week)
    This french bread looks fantastic!
    All is missing is butter to spread on some slices :)

  10. This makes my mouth water! Yum! Thanks for joining my Link Up! :)

  11. first, I cannot make bread but I do know a good one and how to eat it...
    now, I am gonna have to go back and read your other post - I thought NOLA bakers used steam to create the crust... this one looks beautiful, yet it does look dense, not like the light fluffy texture of a Leidenheimer or even Reising's po-boy

    1. They do use steam--from what I gather, tunnel ovens with steam injectors. A pan of water like I did in a previous recipe, or misting with a spray bottle just doesn't give the same results in my (old!) residential oven. Overall, I'm satisfied with the crust on this one. But, oh if I could get that fluffy texture too...

  12. Oh wow!!! This sounds wonderful!!! I just recently started making Tom Laheys no knead bread... this french bread sounds and looks wonderful!!! I will absolutely be making this!!!!
    Angela - LeMoine Family Kitchen

  13. Just curious - did you use bread flour or just regular AP flour?

    1. AP. Out of bread flour, but would like to try this recipe with it next time to improve the texture.

  14. Awesome? I love a good French bread. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friday.

    1. That should be "awesome!" Lol. Not a question

  15. Hi Michelle,
    I can't wait to try this recipe, I love real crusty french bread. Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  16. Now that's a nice looking loaf,,, just give me a hunk of cheese and a glass of wine and I got dinner. Thanks for stopping by foodie friday.

  17. I love French bread and this looks delicious. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday!

  18. This bread looks delicious! I would love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday through Tuesday) at 'Or so she says ...' Hope to see you there! www.oneshetwoshe.com

  19. we love french bread but i rarely get them right. this looks delicious. will give it a try.


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