Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bakery Style French Bread - with the chewy crust you love...

A surprisingly simple recipe for what we have all learned to love in classic French Bread... My cherished 30(+) year old bread cookbook describes it this way: “a cracklingly crisp crust - as close as you can come to French bakeshop bread”. Enough said, this is a good example of “less is more.”

We have grown tired of rolls for Sunday dinner lately (yes, that is possible!) So a few days ago I developed a craving for crunchy, chewy, fragrant french bread - and not the ‘fancy’ kind either.
I flipped through my cookbook stash and found one I worshiped as a newlywed years ago. As you can see from the photo - it’s worn, discolored, and splattered from use - the sign of a good cookbook. It warmed my heart to run my fingers over those pages - I haven’t consulted it in years. I don’t even think it’s in print any longer. I’m sure this recipe is not a closely held family secret of anyone out there, but it’s a good one.

I tried two different methods of letting it rise. First - I immediately formed it, let it rise briefly, and baked it immediately (about 2 hours). Second - I followed the directions implicitly - but set it out in my (very chilly) garage so I wouldn’t have to bake it immediately (the refrigerator was full...) In essence - the second method was what I would call “refrigerator french bread”. My son liked this version - he said it just tasted better. I agree. Ample rising time is important for french bread to develop that great flavor.

One of my newly married couples came to dinner on Sunday, and my new daughter-in-law asked if I was going to “blog about the french bread”... So, Rachel - this one’s for you!

For the full recipe, photos, and instructions - go to:

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