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French Bread

How to make French bread with lots of holes.

How to make French bread (Part 1):

How to make French bread (Part 2):

Ingredients for the poolish:

  • 3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon (85 g) water

Ingredients for French bread:

  • poolish
  • 1 1/3 cups (175 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon (85 g) water
  • a little vegetable oil

Making the poolish:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix 3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour and a pinch of instant yeast.

    A pinch of yeast, shown in a 1/2 teaspoon for context.

  2. Add 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon (85 g) of water and mix until the flour is incorporated. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature for 12 to 30 hours. You can use a warm oven to speed up the rising process. Let it rise until it becomes bubbly. After it becomes poolish, you can refrigerate it until you decide to make the French bread, but try to use it within 10-12 hours.

    This is poolish. You can see the bubbles.

Making French bread with the poolish:

  1. Add 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon (85 g) of water to the poolish and mix gently.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups (175 g) of all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add the poolish to the flour mixture and mix with your hands. The mixture should be sticky, but if it is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
  4. Knead the dough for 7 minutes.
  5. Oil a clean mixing bowl, then place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 2 hours at 80�F (30�C), and during that 2 hour span you must deflate the dough 3 times (every 30 minutes or so). To deflate the dough, take the dough out of the bowl, stretch the dough and fold it a couple of times.
  6. Oil the surface where you plan to shape the dough; you can use a metal baking sheet. Place the dough on the surface and shape that into an even oval shape. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave it for 20 minutes at 80�F (30�C).
  7. Fold the dough along its length towards the center and press it into the center. Then fold the opposite side towards the center and press it into the center.
  8. Then fold both edges towards the center and pinch it together along the length.
  9. Roll the dough onto a heavily floured cloth. Pin the ends of the cloth together with clothespins. This will help keep the shape and moisture of the dough during the proofing process.
  10. Cover with a plastic sheet and let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm oven at 85�F (32�C), then move the dough to the counter so that you can start preheating the oven. Place your baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 475�F (245�C). To ensure that the baking stone is hot enough, let it sit in the oven for at least 10 minutes. A well-heated baking stone helps to expand the slit and it creates a lot of holes.
  11. Flip the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using a razor, slit that dough lengthwise at least 1/2 inch deep and at a 45 degree angle. Lightly oil that slit with vegetable oil.
  12. Once the oven is preheated, carefully place the dough on the hot baking stone (this video shows how to transfer the dough to the hot baking stone). Then spray 4 pumps of water above the dough (not directly at it). This will help the bread to expand while it is baking. Bake at 475�F (245�C) for 7 minutes, 450�F (230�C) for 5 minutes, then 425�F (210�C) for the last 3 minutes.
  13. Remove the dough from the baking stone and place it on a rack to cool down. Let it cool down completely before you start slicing the bread.
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