August 21, 2011

The Very Best French Bread Made at Home

I didn't name this bread, so please don't think I'm that egotistical. I'm also slightly skeptical since I've made some pretty dang tasty French bread already. My husband will be the true taste tester of the bread's name when he is permitted to pull the loaves from the freezer for sampling. (I've been baking so much that I can only leave one loaf out at a time for eating.)

The Very Best French Bread Made at Home
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp. dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water, 105ºF and 115ºF

Combine sponge ingredients listed above together. Cover, and let stand 12 to 24 hours until sponge is bubbly and has a sweet and lightly sour aroma. Stir the sponge down. Then proceed with remaining ingredients:

1/2 cup water
1 cup wheat berries
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and sponge and remaining ingredients. Knead until a dough forms that is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Turn dough onto lightly greased or floured surface, and punch dough down. Divide dough into two pieces, and shape each into a round loaf. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Using a sharp knife, slash the top of each loaf. Brush the loaves with water. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until golden.Cool on a wire rack.

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