French Bread With Egg Whites

READY IN: 3hrs
YIELD: 2 loaves




  • Beat egg whites till they are stiff; set aside.
  • Measure 2 1/2 cups flour into a mixing bowl and add the yeast, sugar and salt.
  • Pour in the hot water and the butter, beat 50 strokes with a wooden spoon or 2 minutes with a mixer flat beater.
  • Fold in the egg whites by hand or with the flat beater.
  • It will take a few moments for the dough to absorb the egg white.
  • Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time till the mixture is no longer moist but soft and elastic.
  • If it continues to be sticky, add sprinkles of flour.
  • Lift the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface, or if in the electric mixer, attach the dough hook.
  • This is a soft, dough that will be slightly tacky, but not sticky. Knead by hand with a push-turn-fold rhythm, adding sprinkles of flour if the moisture breaks through. Knead for 10 minutes.
  • If kneading by hand, occasionally lift the dough above the work surface and bring it crashing down to speed the development of the gluten network.
  • If in a mixer, add sprinkles of flour if the dough sticks to the side of the bowl.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a towel) and put aside to rise at room temperature to double in bulk (about 1 hour, unless using rapid rise yeast).
  • Divide the dough into equal parts and roll each under the palm of your hands into a 15-inch long baguette.
  • Lay the dough either in French bread pans or directly onto a prepared baking sheet (greased and lightly sprinkled with corn meal). Keep the loaves apart so they do not touch during rising or baking.
  • Mix the cornstarch, 1/2 t salt and 1/3 cup water - brush the loaves with this mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or poppy seeds) if desired.
  • Let rise, uncovered, till doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 20 minutes before baking and place a pan on the floor of the oven below the bottom rack. Five minutes before baking carefully pour 1 cup hot water into the pan to create steam for a crispy crust (be careful not to burn yourself with rising steam!).
  • Bake in the moderate oven for 20-30 minutes, or till the crust is risen and golden brown. (to test, turn one loaf over and thump with the forefinger to make certain it sounds hollow - if not, return to the oven for a few minutes).
  • Remove from the oven, remove from pans and place on a metal rack to cool.