|warm water (115°)
|3½ cups||bread flour (I use King Arthur)
French bread is different than the French bread that you get any
where else. It's light on the inside and crispy on the
outside and delicious. When you bite into it, the crust
crumbles and makes a mess on your plate. I have never seen
French bread like it anywhere else. This recipe is my
attempt to make New Orleans French bread at home as easily as
possible. I've probably cooked french bread at least 50
different ways to get this recipe to this point. It's not perfect but I'm
getting pretty damn close. There's a lot of
twelves in this recipe, but it's amazingly easy to make, the
dough only has to rise one time, and it doesn't have to be
kneaded by hand. For this recipe you will need a heavy
duty mixer with a dough hook. I have a KitchenAid and
that's what I used to write this recipe. Lastly,
proportions are very important in this recipe so measure
precisely. Don't use a 2 or 4 cup measuring cup to measure
the water. For the water use 1 cup and ¼ cup measuring
cups filled to the brim. For the flour, use 1 cup and ½
cup measuring cups, fill them to the top and use a knife to
level the flour even with the top.
Put the sugar and water in the mixer bowl and stir
until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast on top and
let this sit for about 10 minutes or until it foams. Add
the salt, shortening, and all the flour to the bowl in one big
pile. Put the dough hook on, set the
mixer to speed 2, set a timer for 12 minutes and walk away.
Don't mess with anything no matter how much you want to.
During this time the mixer will make a dough ball and knead it.
Take the dough ball from the mixer, divide it into two equal pieces, and place it on a floured surface. Using your hands, roll the dough into two dough rolls approximately 15" long. Place the dough rolls onto French bread pans. Paint the top of the dough rolls with melted butter, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let them rise in a warm place for an hour or until each dough roll has risen into the size of a French bread roll.
dough has risen, put a baking pan on the bottom rack in your
oven and preheat it and your oven to 350°. Drop 3 ice
cubes onto the baking pan, put the bread on the middle rack, and
set a timer for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off put 3 more ice cubes in the baking pan
and set the timer for 12 more minutes. Pull the loaves
from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.