The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Anyone ever bake Clayton's French Bread with beaten egg whites?

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Anyone ever bake Clayton's French Bread with beaten egg whites?

Tonight I'm making a nice lemon chicken picatta and I thought I'd do a quick Italian bread.  I dusted off my Bernard Clayton New Complete Book of Breads, just because I haven't opened it in so long and thought I could find a quick recipe within it.  Instead, I became fixated on a recipe for French Bread made with beaten egg whites.  I was curious - French bread made with egg whites?  It didn't call for an overnight ferment, although it certainly could have had one, I suppose, but it fit the bill.. looked easy enough and was quick.


The recipe calls for beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form, which I did.  Then it called for adding all the ingredients, but one cup of the bread flour, together with the egg whites.  When the egg whites are combined, Clayton suggests adding the last cup of flour a bit at a time.  I did that and all of the egg whites incorporated nicely (I used my Magic Mill).  The recipe called for a wash of water, mixed with cornstarch and salt.  Brush it on the loaf and then add sesame seeds.  It suggested you do this on the second rise after shaping and not to cover the loaves, but let them double uncovered.  The dough was quite soft to work with, but still, a nice dough.


I have to say, the bread came out beautifully, although baked at 350 degrees, they seemed a bit more pale than I'm used to.  Has anyone ever made this bread and from experience, are french breads usually made with egg?  The bread is extremely soft and fluffy on the inside, the crust - of course, isn't crispy or overly crunchy, but it will make a nice loaf for sopping up the lemon, garlic and parsley sauce of the chicken.


Overall, I love his book but I tend not to reach for it first since I have to break down all the ingredients into weights.  I really must use it more often though, there are many recipes that intrigue me!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And they called for beaten eggwhites, too.  Very good rolls with a light, crisp crust.


I need to be more disciplined when baking from Clayton.  As you noted, everything is in volume measurements.  I tend to just go with the flow, instead of translating to weights.


Paul

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I'm glad you have made the bread.  My loaves came out perfectly, although somewhat bland on flavor and color.  Next time I'll overnight to see if it improves the dough.  I wasn't that taken with the crust, but we still ate almost the whole thing :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that ever existed.  :) 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Salt of course, and eggs may be, but in French bread?  That was what caught my attention.  Since coming here and making more breads from other books, Hamelman and Reinhart - I took another look at that book and thought it was really interesting once again. 


He has a good mix of breads and many of them do not call for overnights, poolish or bigas.. and I wonder if he's "dummied down" some of the recipes to appeal to a wider audience?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Then again, look at the original copyright of the book: 1973.  Not a lot of books focused on artisanal breads back then.  And methods like cold ferments, stretch and folds, preferments or others that have become "normal" for much of the TFL community just weren't known to the home baker nearly 40 years ago.


So, yes, there are almost certainly breads that Clayton includes in his book that are different, perhaps significantly so, than the breads that inspired Clayton's version.  Virtually every bread in the book is a straight yeasted type, excepting the sourdoughs.  I can't imagine that the bakers on the S.S. France (whose petit pains Clayton includes in his book) weren't conversant with preferments.  Still, he deserves credit for introducing a lot of American home bakers to types of breads that got little mention in other contemporary baking books.  


And a lot of his breads taste really good, too.  ;-)


Paul

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Don't misunderstand my post.  I'm not criticising him or his book.  I certainly am not criticising his recipe, but I just found it odd that it included egg whites.  My point in this post was not to take away credit, but to ask if anyone had made this recipe, with egg whites and what they thought. I am not Clayton so I can't say what inspired him or his bread formulas in the book.  All I know is that I appreciate the wide variation that he provides.  Some of which I would probably do differently as I gain more experience myself. 


 

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Aside from whether or not eggs belong in French Bread, I have made that recipe and liked the result.  I have also used the technique in sandwich bread recipes that include eggs.  I have not done side by side tests to guage how much difference it makes, but those breads were good.


FF

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I probably won't make the bread again under those directions or guidelines.  I did not care for the bread.  It seemed a bit disappointing to be called French Bread, when it didn't really have the characteristics of what I love most about French Bread.  Next time, I would try the overnight rest and most definitely a higher baking temperature.  My bread came out extremely pale, which I found unattractive.  The taste was only so-so, but there are ways to improve that nicely, I realize that.