The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French bread recipes?

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GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

French bread recipes?

Hello everyone.


 


My favourite breads to buy seem to be -


Pain champagne du longe, Petit Parisienne and Batards.


 


Could someone please provide a good recipe for the above please as i am interested in making my own.


Any information is great.


Thank you.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I think your first two descriptions may refer to the length of the bread - a batard is simply a shape and can be formed with any dough.


Try typing pain de campagne in the search bar - you'll come up with a lot of information. I'm guessing petite Parisienne means a small baguette.  Plenty of recipes for those here as well - but baguettes can pose challenges even for the experienced baker.


As to your question in your other thread, you certainly can freeze freshly baked bread once it has completely cooled.  Just cater wrap it in film, tuck it in a freezer bag, and place in the freezer.  Allow it to naturally thaw about 12 hours before you intend to use it.  Don't use the microwave to thaw.


Do check out the lessons and handbook tabs at the top of the page.  They provide a lot of good information for new bakers.


If you have any questions about the baking process, just ask.  There's loads of folks here who will be happy to try to help.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I personally have found a relative paucity of good French bread recipes published on the web; much of what exists seem to use unnecessarily exceedingly complicated procedures. (I've rationalized this to myself -perhaps incorrectly- as that style of recipe being so "universal" that every bread recipe book ever published includes one, which makes it difficult to publish anything on the web without inadvertently running afoul of copyright.) So what I personally use is the Julia Child recipe in Volume II of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's quite old now  ...but in my experience still quite serviceable. Of course my copy of the book is stuffed with notes to myself about variations in the ingredients, variations in procedure, and records of what's worked well (and not-so-well) in the past.


(The names you give refer more to the shape of the bread than to the ingredients. I suspect that any recipe for French bread that includes fairly detailed directions will work just fine. French bread is nothing more that flour, water, yeast, and salt [and maybe a tiny tiny bit of ascorbic acid which is probably already in North American flour] in high hydration [but not atypical] proportions - i.e. just a plain lean wet white dough. What seems to matter more than the ingredients is both the procedure and the shaping [those long thin shapes really do have some effect, especially on the crust and on the rather extreme quick staling qualities.)




As to your other question, one word of warning: When removing bread from the freezer, let it thaw completely before you unrwap it. If you unwrap it immediately and shake off all the ice crystals (or let it thaw with the bag open), it will turn out very dry (sometimes almost inedibly so).


You should be aware there are some alternative thawing procedures that involve unwrapping the bread while it's still frozen and using the oven. They seem to work well, especially for certain kinds of bread and especially in certain hands. But my personal suggestion is to not start there.

GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

Thank you both for your quick replies!


 


I would only really bother with the pain de campagne and the batards, not really the baguettes, it is the bigger bread which is the ones i am most interested in.


 


I will have a search on the forum and have a look through the threads which are already on here.


 


Many thanks again for answering both of my questions too, i appreciate that!

GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

I dont seem to be able to find an actual recipe, just people talking about the ones which they have made, with pictures, but no actual recipes from what i can see.

silkenpaw's picture
silkenpaw

Here's a baguette recipe from another site. Good luck.

GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

Thank you for the link - i will have a look at that now.


 


Can i ask a silly question - it may or may not be silly to you guys - i dont know, i havent really baked before.


 


Do you have to bake such things as batards and pain du campagne bread with a 'poolish'? Everywhere i look it seems to suggest a 'poolish' and then also the main dough.


 


Thanks.

silkenpaw's picture
silkenpaw

Some breads are traditionally done with a poolish (a type of starter) but you don't have to do them that way. Peter Reihart has worked out a starter-free way of making baguettes and other breads in his "Artisan Breads Every Day." But that means that he has done all the math regarding the amounts of flour and water as well as timing. I also wonder whether the taste suffers.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

A poolish is a per-ferment, which will give the bread a better flavor.  It's a pretty simple process.  


There are plenty of bread recipes which use only flour, water, salt and yeast, so yes, you can make pretty good bread that doesn't contain a pre-ferment and often that's the best way to start for a new baker.


However, if you really want to make good French bread, well, check out this link.


P.S.  No question is silly.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The earliest recipes for French bread I know of (again I refer you to Julia Child's book:-) do not include any sort of pre-ferment such as a poolish. Incorporating a poolish is a very common way to develop even more flavor, so much so that over the years it's become "traditionally" associated with French bread.


But it seems to me that French bread recipes without a poolish -which are not new- are more "back-to-basics" than "simplifications".


And my own baking experience is that French bread without a poolish tastes plenty good enough already and is a good place to start.


 


(One caution about Julia Child's information. Most of it is very good and has held up over all this time. The exception though is her advice on "steaming the oven", which I suggest you not follow. There are now significantly better ways to do it, and some of her advice may actually damage some modern ovens.)

GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

Thank you again for the replies, i appreciate it!


 


Does anyone have a very basic recipe i can try for French bread that doesn't use/need a Poolish, that is just flour, water, yeast, etc... that is fairly basic and i can give it a go without getting to techincall too soon please?


 


Thank you.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

As I've noted, the best place to start is through the TFL lessons.  Here's the link to the first one which uses the basic ingredients of flour, water, yeast and salt.


Give it a try and see what you think.

GRNutrition's picture
GRNutrition

Thank you, i will have a look at that link!

madruby's picture
madruby

 

 

Hi GRNutrition,

I started to bake breads just a little 2 months ago by browsing through the KAF website and after buying Peter Reinhart's ABED.  I can attest to the fact that his lean and classic French recipes make for superb, tasty and very flavorful breads, IMHO.  I still struggle with the shapes, looks and manipulation, but overall, I think it was a great way to introduce myself to baking baguettes and the French breads.  I have learned quite a lot reading through the different threads here and elsewhere, but today, I decided to take a baking class given by a professional baker who has been baking all sorts of stuff for the last 35 years.  He also used to work for SAF (the French yeast company) and he had wonderful things to share and teach us.  Funny that you'd ask for a simple French bread recipe (without the poolish) bcuz we actually made some today (the breads turned out PERFECTLY). 

Here it is:

instant yeast  - 6 g (we used Gold SAF - he said that if we had only the red SAF, then to use 5g)

water - 480 g (25 Celsius to 35 C)

all purpose flour  - 600 g

salt - 12 g

Combine all the dry ingredients together and give it a quick mix.  Add the water and with a spatula, mix everything for about 2 minutes (it took me closer to 3.5 min).  Cover with a plastic (use the cheap shower caps, they work great!) and let it rest for appx 20 min.

Slightly stretch the dough and fold it unto itself (in order to cover the entire dough, it will take you appx 5-6 folds).  Your dough will now look like an odd ball; pick it up and turn it upside down.  Cover the dough and let it rest for appx 20 min.  Repeat the stretch and fold a second time.  Cover and let it ferment between 60 to 80 min.

Start to preheat your oven at 450 F.  With a scraper, gently pull the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured counter.  Turn the dough upside down again and divide it in 6 portions.  Gently pre-shape each portion into a ball, and let them stand on the counter with a plastic over the doughs for appx 20 min.  Shape each dough into a baguette, batard, or a boule.  Proof the doughs on a couche for appx 30 min.  Score the loaves.

Bake them for appx 20 to 22 min (it may be less or more depending on the shape and size of the breads), ensuring that the oven has steam the first few minutes of the bake.

Let the loaves completely cooled down before eating them (don’t do like I do…I usually start slicing my breads after 15-20 min. of them being baked and that’s a NO, NO).  It took us about 4 hrs to get through this recipe and I can tell you that the breads tasted delicious.

Our instructor baked some breads in a home oven (with the homemade steam) and some in his professional baking oven and both batches of breads had the same oven spring and the same great taste.  Let us know how these turn out for you.