French Bread

French Bread

The taste and crunchy texture is authentically French. This bread, like most breads made from wheat flour, is sweet-tasting and good for general nutrition. Eaten in moderation, it reduces Vata and Pitta and is neutral for Kapha. Because it is both sweet and heavy, too much bread will increase Kapha. It’s best to eat bread spread with butter for ease of digestion. Vegetables and bread complement each other. That means they are most efficiendy digested when eaten during the same course of the meal.

Makes 2 to 3 loaves

2 packages yeast

3 cups tepid water

71/2 cups unbleached bread flour

4 teaspoons salt

1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the tepid water. In a large bowl mix the flour and the salt together. Form a well and with a wooden spoon incorporate the yeast and water into the flour. Work the flour into a ball by hand, and then transfer to a floured work surface. The dough will feel tacky. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary. Occasionally throw the dough on the work surface. After 10 minutes it will become elastic but remain a bit sticky. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover tighdy with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place; allow to double in volume. This will take about 1/2 to 2 hours. When it has risen, punch it down, cover, and let it rise again.

2. Turn out on a floured surface and knead briefly. Divide the dough into as many loaves as desired. If you are using a French baguette pan, divide the dough into thirds, and make 2 baguettes and 1 oval loaf. Otherwise, 2 nicely rounded loaves can be made.

3. Place the loaves, covered lightly with a towel, in a warm place and let rise to double volume.

4. Preheat the oven to 425‚°F.

5. Place a shallow pan of water on the lowest oven shelf. Before putting the loaves in the oven, slash the tops diagonally with a razor blade or a very sharp knife point. Then spray the loaves lightly with water before placing in the oven. Bake on a preheated baking tile or on baking sheets sprinkled with a little cornmeal. During the first 18 minutes of baking, open the oven door and spray the loaves again with a light covering of water several times. This will make them very crispy. Then remove the pan of water and finish baking until the loaves are golden brown. Total baking time is 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the loaves and cool on a wire rack.

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