French Bread Recipe
A Favorite French Bread Recipe (or Three or Four)
This page contains three recipes for French Bread: Baguettes, Brioche and a No Knead French Bread. You will also find the history of French Bread and some celebrity quotes about bread.
A good French bread recipe is the best thing since, well ... sliced bread!
This page offers several excellent recipes for this wonderful artisan bread, including a recipe for baguettes and brioche. I have included some links to other baking sites you may enjoy.
Also, just for fun, I included some information about the history of this culinary marvel.
Oh, and just because I like quotes and they amuse me, I have added some quotes that celebs and famous people have said about bread -- the staff of life. I hope you find the quotes entertaining the way I do.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons.
In Honor of the French Bread Recipe!
Le Pain Français! Famous the world over!
If you can't think of a reason to visit France, the thought of a mouth watering slice of authentic French bread should get you started packing.
France is the most visited country in the world, with 79 million visitors annually who stay more than 24 hours. We can speculate why this is. We can think about the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and other cultural attractions, the Left Bank, the nightlife, the fashion, the shopping, the food in general -- but I say the main reason people go there is for the French Bread!
According to Wikipedia, French food laws define bread as a product containing only water, flour, yeast, and salt. The addition of any other ingredient to the basic recipe requires the baker to use a different name for the final product.
However, other countries use the term "French bread" to describe bread containing fat and various other ingredients.
The typical French bread recipe often produces a thick crusted bread with air bubbles on the inside. The French bakers usually bake three times daily and sell the bread unwrapped, which keeps the crust crispier.
Here is a Traditional French Bread Recipe : Baguettes
Baguettes, Demi-baguettes and Ficelles
In French, baquette means "little stick." Baguettes have a crispy crust and are much longer than they are wide. A typical baguette can be a meter long, but only five or six centimeters wide and three or four centimeters high.
Shorter baguettes used for sandwiches are called demi-baguettes or tiers.
However, not all long loaves are called baquettes. A ficelle is a thinner stick.
- 1 1/4 cup water (or a little more, depending on the type of bread machine you are using).
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Red Star brand active dry yeast
Put all the ingredients in your bread pan. Select the dough setting. When the cycle ends, allow the dough to rise for one additional hour. At that time, punch down the dough and let it rise in the machine for yet another hour. Then remove the dough onto a floured kneading board. Shape it into a ball then flatten it using just your hands.
Line a wicker basket with a kitchen towel and flour the towel. Be sure to use a basket that's twice the size of your dough. Put the dough in the basket. Do not cover. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. (yes, this is the third rising cycle).
When double in bulk, turn the dough upside down onto a greased baking sheet, or for best results, use an authentic baguette pan such as the one shown in the shopping list above.
Take a sharp knife, and being careful not to flatten the loaf, make four slashes across the top, resembling a # sign. .
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Put a cup of boiling water in a small pan which you place on the bottom shelf. Put dough in oven and bake for twenty minutes.
Remove and cool on rack for at least sixty minutes before you slice it. To keep the crust crisp, avoid storing it in a plastic wrap.
This bread will dry out in about two days -- but good heavens, why should it last that long?
Another French Bread Recipe -- Brioche
Brioche is a rich French bread with a tender crumb, thanks to the high egg and butter content. An egg wash applied before and after proofing provide a dark golden, flaky crust.
The brioche shown in the picture is the type of brioche we are most familiar with. This brioche is cooked in a fluted tin with a small piece of dough placed on top. Another type, the Brioche Nanterre is cooked in a standard loaf pan, but you place two rows of dough in the pan and allow them to fuse together during baking.
Ingredients for the Brioche
- 1 lb bread flour
- 1/2 oz salt
- 1 1/2 oz sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 oz Yeast, fresh, active
- 8 oz unsalted butter
Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Blend. Add eggs and mix until dough is smooth. Add butter in four separate operations. Work each piece of butter into the dough thoroughly before you add more.
Mix until dough is elastic and clings to the spoon. Cover and chill for six hours. Unwrap the dough. Cut it into two even pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Work the ball into a loaf shape with the palm of your hand. Place in a brioche pan, and let rise in warm spot until a little puffy. Deflate it at that time. Allow it to rise again until it reaches the top of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and moving away from the sides of the pan.
Cool on a wire rack.
History of French Bread
A historian's take
Historian Steven Laurence Kaplan loves French Bread so much he wrote a book on its history. Kaplan is a Goldwin Smith Professor of European History at Cornell University and Visiting Professor of Modern History at the University of Versailles, Saint-Quentin. This man is such a fan he spent 368 pages explaining his passion for a good French bread recipe.
According to Kaplan, good French bread is back after almost a century of poorly made French bread. In fact, the name of his book is Good Bread Is Back.
Kaplan says French bread declined in quality in the 20th century. Consumption dropped off at that time, due to social and economic modernization and the fact that consumers had a wider choice of foods available to them. However, the main reason people stopped eating the bread was because the bread simply did not taste as good. Bakers had abandoned time honored baking techniques in favor of conveyor-belt style baking. This poor quality bread was an affront to France's entire self image.
Eventually, the government and the millers began urging the bakers to go back to the traditional artisan style baking. Their efforts paid off. By the mid 1990s, Parisiens were once again demanding the traditional French bread recipe, a wonderful bread made without additives or preservatives.
Kaplan says the ideal French bread has a particular crust and crumb, mouth feel, aroma, taste and even has a particular sound it makes when you tap on it. He describes each attribute with great care, obviously loving his topic.
Lest you share Kaplan's devotion for the perfect bread, the historian provides a system for assessing the quality of a French bread recipe and gives you the language to use so you can discuss the bread appropriately.
I must confess that I have not tested the recipes on these page using Kaplan's system. I'll leave that to you, gentle reader, to do for me.
This is an excellent cookbook for those who want to master the art of bread making,
French Bread Recipe #3: No Knead French Bread
No need to knead
This probably won't pass muster as authentic French bread, but it's tasty.
- 1/2 cup war water (105-115 degrees)
- 2 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 pk dry yeast
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter or margarine
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup cold water
- 6 1/2 to 7 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg; beaten
- 2 tbsp milk
- poppy seeds or sesame seeds
Mix warm water, 2 1/2 tsp sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Wait five minutes. Mix together the boiling water, salt and two tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl. When butter has melted, add cold water. Cool to lukewarm. Stir the yeast mixture into the water mixture. Add 2-1/2 cups flour.
With an electric mixer at medium speed, beat until blended. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Let the dough stand for ten minutes, then stir gently and not for long. Cover. Stir gently every ten minutes for the next forty minutes.
Flour a surface; turn the dough onto the surface and divide into three equal parts. Roll each part out to a 13 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Roll it up like you with for a jellyroll, starting with the long side. Pinch the ends together into a seam. Put each loaf on a separate, greased baking sheet, with the seam side down. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about forty minutes or until it has doubled in size.
Take a sharp knife, and being careful not to deflate the loaf, make diagonal slits down the long part of the loaves. Make the slits about 1/4 inch deep.
Combine the egg and ilk in a small bowl, beating until blended. Brush gently over loaves after rising. Sprinkle each loaf with poppy seeds.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.
This recipe produces bread that freezes well.
Rate This Recipe
Just for Fun -- Celebrity Quotes About Bread
- Man cannot live by bread alone: he must have peanut butter. James Garfield
- The hunger for love is much harder to remove than the hunger for bread. Mother Theresa
- If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. Muhammid Ali
- There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. Mahatma Gandhi
- Life is not worth living if I cannot have pasta or bread again. Monica Seles
- If you have extraordinary bread and extraordinary butter, its hard to beat bread and butter. Jaques Pepin
- Acorns were good until bread was found. Francis Bacon
© 2007 June Campbell