I know what you're all thinking, bread making is intimidating! I am here to tell you this recipe makes it easy! Don't be alarmed by the many steps in the instructions, it is a simple process to follow. If you're new to bread making, or simply want a delicious French boule bread - this recipe is for you! The crust is golden and crunchy, with a soft fluffy inside. The perfect appetizer or pairing with an entree. You can simply spread some butter on top for a balanced bite or even dip this in some soup to absorb flavors.
Fun fact: The traditional shape of French bread is the "Boule", which means ball in French. The bread baker is called the "Boulanger" and the bakery is called the "Boulangerie". Therefore, if you'd like to call yourself a Boulanger, give this recipe a try!
French Boule Bread
- Dutch Oven
- 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast (typically one packet)
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1 1.2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 360 grams flour (about 3 cups)
Mix the dough & first rise:
- Combine yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water in a large bowl. Ensure the water is not too hot! It should not hurt to touch, just be mildly warm. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and your dough will not rise. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.
- Add in kosher salt and flour. Using a food scale, measure 360 grams of flour which is approximately 3 cups. Hand mix the dough until all of the flour is incorporated and dough has just started to pull away from the sides of the bowl. At this point in the process, the dough should be pretty sticky.
- Flour the top of the dough (do not mix in, this is just so it doesn't stick). Flip the bowl upside down, and flour the other side of the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. The dough should nearly double in size. Ideal rise temperatures are between 80F-90F. Higher temperatures will kill the yeast, lower temperatures will take longer to rise the dough. A little trick if you can't find an environment to rise your dough: boil water, place the boiled water in a shallow baking dish at the bottom of your oven, do not turn your oven on, and place the covered dough on the higher rack in the oven. This will create a warm steamy environment to allow the dough to properly rise.
Shape the dough & final rise:
- Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a cutting board. Tip the dough out of the bowl onto the cutting board. Don't punch the dough! We want to keep all of the air bubbles in the dough. If the dough is sticking to the bowl, simply flour your hand and help push the dough out.
- Dust the top of the dough with some flour and lets begin shaping. Pull the side of the dough into the center, like you would an envelope. Keep doing this all around the sides. Keep doing so until the dough feels tight. Then flip the dough over. It should look like a round ball.
- Flour a medium sized bowl generously. Place your dough into the bowl, the seam side down. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
- While the bread is rising, place your empty dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 460F.
- Use oven mitts to pull the dutch oven out. It will be very hot so be careful! Lay parchment paper on your counter. Tip your dough gently out of the bowl, onto the parchment paper. Make sure the seam side is up. Grab the sides of the parchment paper to lift and place your dough in the dutch oven. With your oven mitts on, grab the dutch oven and place back into the preheated oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the dutch oven lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid to golden the crust more and continue baking for 10-15 minutes. When done, pull the dutch oven out of the oven. Pull the bread out by lifting the parchment paper. Let cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into.
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