French BreadPosted: October 9, 2012
This was my snack today. 🙂
Look at those air pockets. And the thick, chewy crust.
And how perfectly it sits next to brie and grapes…
And I’m unashamedly, really, really proud of myself!
I have had a love-hate relationship with French bread and baguettes since becoming gluten-free. As in, I love French bread. And I hate that, on top of being made out of finicky dough, you need a special pan to bake it in. (The same thing goes for donuts. There are so many donut recipes out there and I cannot convince myself to invest in a donut pan. What else could you possibly use it for?) And so, I passed up recipe after recipe of French bread while I pined hopelessly for Against the Grain Gourmet’s baguettes. Their crisp, crunchy crust and soft, chewy, eggy interior is unbelievably delicious! I would highly recommend them for anyone…however those of you who are not on the post-graduate budget might have an easier time following that recommendation. While eating the bread might be happily done, their price tag is a little hard to swallow. But every once in a while, I couldn’t hold out any longer and I’d run down to MOM’s and buy a pack of two. And spend the next blissful day or two eating all sorts of sandwiches, bruschettas, or just gobbling down buttered slices.
Needless to say, my french-bread-pan-less state was a serious problem. Then, yesterday, when I was home (for Punc’s very first puppy class!), I was flipping through my cookbooks in hope of finding a quick new recipe to try when I stopped to read through Bette Hagman’s French Bread recipe. And, lo’ and behold, there was the only trick I needed! A tricky so simple, I was a little embarassed to have not thought of it myself. “If you do not have a french bread pan, simpled form the tube out of doubled, heavy duty aluminum foil.” Duh. Bette, you’ve earned my love twice-over, between this and your pie crust recipe!
And, bonus points, her bread flour mix was made up of 3 ingredients. 4 for whole grain. And, the french bread only needed a 15 minute rising before jumping straight into the oven. I was sold, easily. I combined the dry ingredients, then mixed in the wet batch, and set about constructed my make-shift bread pans during the 3 minute mixing time. My foil was wide and long enough that I folded once lengthwise and once width-wise before shaping my half-tube around a vinegar bottle. I made a second tube and set them together on a jelly-roll pan. I had enough space to wedge a regular 9×5″ bread pan in beside them to keep them sturdy. This, I fill with about 1 cup of water, just to keep the heat distributed easily.
By now my dough was mixed and ready to rise. In a snap, they were ready for the oven.
I was quite proud of myself when I pulled the steaming, fragrant loaves from the oven a little over an hour later, and happily explained my trick when my mother came downstairs. She looked from me to the foil molds, and then back and said: “You know we have french bread pans, right?” And then she pulled not one, but two double french bread pans from the depths of the cabinet. (On a side note, I didn’t even know that said cabinet went back as far as it did.) This is my life, folks. One, I’ll discover all of the cookery treasures that she has hoarded since my birth.
But anyways. Real bread pan or aluminum foil form, this french bread was incredible!
I’ve fiddled with the flours and the yeast a little from Bette’s original recipe. Here’s my spin for delicious bread:
Adapted from Bette Hagman’s recipe.
Makes 1 long (14-18 in) baguette, or two short (8-12 in) baguettes
- 1 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp White Rice Flour
- 1/4 cup Tapioca Starch
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
- 2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp quick-rising yeast
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a french bread pan. If you do not have a french bread pan, just take a long sheet of aluminum foil, fold it in half lengthwise and again widthwise, then shape into a half-tubular-type shape. Crimp edges as needed until it fits on your baking sheet. You are trying to make a mold like a french bread pan. For reference, here is what my actual pan looks like:
Make each ‘half-tube’ out of a separate piece of foil, I made two, and set them on a jelly roll pan. I had just enough room left over, that if I wedged a 9×5″ bread pan beside them, they were supported enough to not slide around.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, starches, xanthan gum, sugar, salt and yeast (dry ingredients) until thoroughly combined. Add warm water, egg whites, and vinegar, mix on low until thoroughly combined. Turn the mixer up to high speed* and beat the dough for 3 minutes. Scoop dough into french bread pan, leaving several inches from the edge on each side. Smooth top with a wet spatula, and, if desired, slice three diagonal, 1/4″ deep slash into the top. Cover dough and allow to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes.
After rising, transfer pan to 400 degree F oven and bake for 1 hour. Then turn down the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 15 more minutes. This bread will not slice until its cool, but if you can’t resist the warm, steamy bread, feel free to tear off pieces.
Go make your own. I promise, its so easy! Because once you try it, you can have an excuse to eat this 6 times a day: