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Crusty European Bread
Ingredients:


 
Recipe Info
Rating: 0
Contributor: admin

 

Directions:

Dissolve yeast, sugar and malt, if using, in lukewarm water. Add oil, salt, pastry flour and enough of the unbleached flour to form a barely workable dough; it should be very moist. Turn dough out onto a floured (or oiled) surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or knead dough in a mixer, using the flat mixing paddle, for 5 minutes; or in a food processor, using the dough blade, for 90 seconds. Dough probably will never form a ball, in either the mixer or food processor. Dough as moist as this is aggravating to work with, but remember: a "slack" dough, one with a bit less flour, will produce a light, airy loaf.

Place dough in a dean, well-greased bowl, cover, and let rise for at least 3 hours, or up to 12 hours, if you wish; don't worry about being there to knock dough down, as it will fall of its own accord, then rise again. Also, dough doesn't need to rise in a warm place; it will develop better flavor if it rises at room temperature (65-70 degrees). In summer, let dough rise in your cellar, or a cool room in the house.

When you're ready to shape loaves, knock dough down, and form into four thin baguettes, or two thicker Italian loaves. Place in greased and cornmeal-sprinkled baguette or Italian loaf pans. Let rise again till puffy, about 1 hour (or up to 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place pans in oven, and use a clean mister (like you use for plants) to spray loaves with cold water three times during the first 5 minutes of baking. This is a somewhat successful attempt to mimic the steam-injected ovens used in professional bakeries, which produce a wonderful crisp crust. Bake bread 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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