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The Better Homemade French Bread

April 22, 2012

French bread first won me over at the age of 4 when I had it with my first plate of spaghetti (or spagottie as I liked to call it).  With crunchy crust and warm, soft center who wouldn't like it? Whether it’s from my local market or a authentic patisserie, it’s always a treat that doesn’t last long in the Bartley household. I decided I would try something a little wild: make my own from scratch. Now looking back, it wasn’t as audacious an endeavor as I thought it would be. The process was surprisingly simple and the result was fantastic! 
I think that bread making is one of the most magical activities. At each step there is a marvelous transformation that seems as though it could have only taken place with the help of a wand and a charming spell.
{Time to knead!}
{Place dough in the bowl}
{Cover it and say the magic words...and wait}
{Voila! Just like magic it's twice its original size}
{Shaping and cutting the first time around was a bit tricky}
{But practice makes perfect}

INGREDIENTS 6 cups all-purpose flour 2.5 ounce package active dry yeast 3 teaspoons salt 2 cups warm water (110℉)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
 butter for greasing pan

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt
2. Stir in 2 cups warm water and beat until well blended
3. Pour onto clean surface and knead in as much of the remaining flour as possible
4. Lightly run hands over dough ball
5. Place in a bowl and cover with damp cloth; allow dough to rise for 45-60 minutes in a warm enviroment
6. Punch dough down and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes
11. Roll each half into a large rectangle with rolling pin
12. With hands take flat rectangles and roll into long logs; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal edges
13. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves seam side down on the prepared sheet. 
14. Lightly beat egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush onto loaves
15. Cover loaves with damp cloth and allow to rise for 35 to 40 minutes
16. With a very sharp knife make 4 diagonal cuts about ¼ inch deep across top of each loaf
17. Bake in an oven preheated to 375℉
18. 15 minutes into baking rotate baking sheet then resume baking for another 15 minutes.
19. Remove from oven and serve


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