Artisan Country Bread

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This versatile recipe makes a soft, wholesome bread with a fine crumb. It's perfect for dinner rolls, shaped loaves, and slicing with jam or honey. Enjoy!
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Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 2-3 shaped loaves or 2 dozen rolls

Source: I tweaked a standard French bread recipe over the years until the loaf was more nutritious, had a soft crust, and kept longer. A good recipe for true French bread is in The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking (1995) by Brother Rick Curry, S.J.

Ingredients:

Tip: My mother told me to never use a plastic bowl or spoon when baking bread. Heavy duty ceramic is my favorite. Steel and glass also produce good results.

Steps:

  1. Sprinkle sugar and yeast evenly over 1/4 cup warm water. The water should be almost hot to touch but not burning, like a bath. Stir until mostly dissolved, then set aside for 5 minutes to let the yeast rise.
  2. Add the remaining milk, water, salt, and the wheat flour. Whisk for 30 seconds to 1 minute until smooth and slightly elastic. Then beat in a cup of all-purpose flour and whisk for another 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Using a sturdy mixing spoon, gradually beat in the remaining cup of flour. Knead dough slightly in the bowl to incorporate the rest of the flour. Note: the dough needs to come out of the bowl somewhat sticky so it doesn't become tough during the next stage of kneading. Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup flour.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a smooth, lightly floured surface and knead 8-12 minutes, until the dough's surface is smooth and bounces back under slight pressure from your finger. The dough should also indicate subtle air bubbles when gently pulled back under itself.
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  6. Place dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in bulk.
  7. Punch dough down to let the air escape, then let it rest for about five minutes. Shape loaves and/or rolls as desired and place on lightly greased cookie sheet to rise a second time for about 30-40 minutes. The rolls/loaves should be just under twice the original size before they go into the oven. The following images for steps 7 and 8 show what the loaves or rolls should look like rising.
  8. To make the pan brie loaf, simply cut half the dough and form into a rounded disk. Make 5 or 6 evenly spaced slashes with a serrated knife. They should be just 1/4 inch deep. You can also curve the two outer slashes to follow the form of the loaf.
  9. To form simple rolls, pinch off dough roughly half the size of a medium apple. Turn the rough edges under, gently stretching each corner under itself.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, or until dark golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
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December 4, 20160 found this helpful

This looks great. Thanks for posting.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
December 13, 20160 found this helpful

Cool. :) Hope you enjoy!

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December 20, 20160 found this helpful

Looks great! Love to give it a try. I think your mother was right about the plastic bowl. I do remember my mother alway used glass bowls for her bread.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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