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Pain Francais (French Bread)

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Pain Francais (French Bread)
This is a variation of the French bread from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and a bread machine recipe I found on food.com.
Course Bread
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 150 minutes
Servings
2 - 16" loaves or 3 - 14" loaves
Ingredients
Course Bread
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 150 minutes
Servings
2 - 16" loaves or 3 - 14" loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
DOUGH
  1. Add flour to mixing bowl setup with dough hook. Then add in instant yeast and salt followed by the tepid water.
  2. Mix with dough hook for 5 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and form in a ball, using extra flour to keep from sticking. Spray bowl with olive oil and return dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in bowl for ~1.5 hours.
LOAF FORMATION
  1. If making baguettes, lightly flour work surface and place dough on surface. Cut into two or three pieces (depending on size of loaves you want); roll into balls. Place extra dough balls back in bowl under plastic wrap.
  2. Pat dough ball firmly into an 8- to 10-inch oval with lightly floured palms of hand.
  3. Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge. Seal the edges of the dough together using thumbs.
  4. Flatten the dough again into an oval with your palms. Press a trench along the central length with the side of your hand. Fold the dough in half lengthwise again. Seal the edges of the dough together using the heal of one hand and roll the dough a quarter turn toward you to seal the bottom.
  5. Now roll the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands to lengthen dough into a sausage shape. Start in the middle, placing your right palm on the dough and your left palm on top of your right hand. Continue rolling forward and backward rapidly, gradually sliding your hands toward the two ends as the dough lengthens to 16-18" for two loaves or 14" for three loaves.
  6. Place parchment paper on an insulated aluminum cookie sheet and transfer dough to sheet. Cover with a damp linen towel.
  7. Repeat loaf formation steps for all pieces.
  8. Slash the top of the dough using a sharp knife or razor blade (3 slashes), making sure that the blade lies almost parallel to the dough surface when cutting.
  9. Allow dough to rise until double/triple in size (1-2 hours).
BAKING
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Moisten surface of bread by painting with a soft brush dipped in egg wash (2 T water whisked with one egg) for a more golden bread and eliminates need to continue to coat during cooking.
  3. Bake loaves in upper third of oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Cool loaves on wire rack.
  5. Serve immediately, store wrapped in airtight bag for two days in refrigerator or freezer. To thaw, unwrap and place baking sheet in a cold oven; heat the oven to 400 F and bake ~20 minutes until crust is hot, crisp, and thawed.
Recipe Notes

Sources: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and http://low-cholesterol.food.com/recipe/basic-machine-french-bread-46501

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