Friday 28 August 2009

Crusty French Loaf

Crusty French Bread

Well I did promise the recipe for the crusty French loaf I used in the soup post below....and here it is! Recipe comes from Country Living Magazine but via Vegan Dad . I am so glad he posted it as well as it is a fantastic basic recipe. It comes out really nice and light with a proper crunchy good! The original recipe was for rolls but I just fancied a loaf so did that. Like Vegan Dad I'll also post the recipe here as I would like it for my own reference, plus I'll scale it down to make 2 loaves or 8 rolls and have converted to grams for us over here :)

Just a note on flour - I purchased a bag of this Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour awhile back, just for a laugh really.....but it really does make a great loaf of bread!

Makes 2 Loaves:
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
300ml warm water (make with 2 part cold and 1 part boiling)
455 - 525g strong bread flour
1/2 Tbsp salt (I may cut back a little on this next time)
1 Tbsp cornmeal (just for the baking sheet)

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand 5 minutes. *note - I followed the instructions for my yeast and whisked first, let sit 10 minutes until foamy all over, then whisked again.* Add 280g of the flour and the salt and beat with the paddle of an electric mixer or by hand till a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms - about 10 minutes. *note - mine never did 'pull away' - didn't seem to make a difference.* Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining 175g of flour and knead for another 5 minutes, or by hand for 10 minutes. Add more warm water or up to 70g of flour to form a soft elastic dough. I did mine by machine but still like to hand knead a few times to get a feel of it. I didn't need any extra water, only a bit of the 70g. Form into a ball.

Grease a warm large bowl and place the ball of dough in, turning to coat all sides. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. *note - mine was ready in 1.5hrs.* Punch the dough down, reform into a ball and place back in the bowl to rise again, in a warm place until doubled again, about 1.5 hours.

Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor or bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 230C. Do not skip the water as this is what gives your loaf the crusty crust! On a lightly floured surface, punch down and knead the dough a couple times. Form either into 8 rolls or 2 loaves. Place on a baking sheet that you have sprinkled with the cornmeal. Loosely cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Rub a little flour over the tops then cut a 1/4 inch deep slash on the top of the rolls, or along the length of your loaves. Please note they mean 1/4 inch deep - I had trouble slicing my soft dough the first time and ended up with this:

I aimed for cross slices but didn't cut deep enough, so for the second time I used a serrated knife and really slashed it - don't be timid with it :)

Bake for about 25 minutes, they will be a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then as with all freshly baked bread, it really is best then and there! Store for up to 2 days in airtight container or freeze up to 1 month.

For the soup toasts, I sliced this, spread vegan margarine on one side, pan grilled it to golden lines appeared then did the same on the other side. Great when this bread is a day old, and fantastic with soup :)


  1. Yum! I love bread, ive never tried fresh bread before. Probably because we dont own a food processer or bread maker, although it looks like i could make this recipe without either of those?
    Thanks for sharing :)


  2. Hi Rose! no you wouldn't need either of those things here. You just have to knead twice as long (5 minutes with a dough hook, 10 minutes by hand)...which is a bit of a workout, but in a way more enjoyable :)

    Also, if you are not using a mixer the recipe stated to mix the first stage by hand but I would use a wooden spoon as it would be very gloopy at that stage :)

  3. This is one type of bread I always buy, rather than making at home, but I'm going to give this recipe a try. It looks so good, I can almost smell it!


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