French Bread - Careme's Recipe

READY IN: 5hrs 30mins
YIELD: 4 loaves




  • MIXING: Using an electric mixer with the flat beater (or by hand, but you'll be exhausted) add 3 cups of flour to the bowl and mix in the 2.5 cups water and the yeast. Add up to 1 more cup flour to make a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix for 9 minutes. Monitor the dough to make sure that it does not creep up the sides of the bowl and onto the motor. Push it down with a spatula if required.
  • While dough is being worked, dissolve salt and water. Add at the end of the 9 minutes, and mix 1 more minute.
  • KNEAD: Switch to the dough hook for the mixer and knead for another 10 minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until dough pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  • FIRST RISING: Put dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should double or triple in volume.
  • KNEAD: Gently remove dough from bowl and place onto a work surface. Knead by hand for 3 minutes.
  • SECOND RISING: Put dough back into bowl and re-cover. Allow to rise 1.5 hours (dough should double or triple).
  • SHAPING: Flour a work surface and gently remove dough from bowl onto the work surface. Punch down the dough and cut into 4 pieces. Allow dough to rest 5 minutes. Shape 4 pieces into baguettes or rounds. Place the shaped dough on a greased baking sheet (depending on the size of your baking sheet you may need to use 2 of them).
  • THIRD RISING: Once shaped dough is on baking sheet, cover with cloth or paper towel and allow to rise for 1 hour. Dough should double in size.
  • BAKING: Place an empty broiler pan on the floor of the oven. Then preheat oven to 450°F Once oven is preheated add 1 cup hot water to the broiler pan to develop steam in the oven (be careful you don't burn yourself on the initial burst of steam) and wait 5 minutes.
  • Place baking sheet(s) in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes. I use a convection oven so I do not need to rotate during baking. Keep an eye on the bread to make sure it is cooking evenly if you have an oven with hot spots.
  • The loaves should be golden-brown and should sound hard and hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Remove loaves from pan and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself, then slice and enjoy!