Pain Français [Plain French Bread]
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  • Unless you plan to go into the more elaborate simulation of a baker's oven, you need no unusual equipment for the following recipe. Here are the requirements, some of which may sound odd but will explain themselves when you read the recipe.
  • A 4- to 5-quart mixing bowl with fairly vertical rather than outward-slanting sides
  • A kneading surface of some sort, 1 1/2 to 2 square feet
  • A rubber spatula and either a metal scraper or a stiff wide metal spatula
  • 1 or 2 unwrinkled canvas pastry cloths or stiff linen towels upon which the dough may rise
  • A stiff piece of cardboard or plywood 18 to 20 inches long and 6 to 8 inches wide, for unmolding dough from canvas to baking sheet
  • Finely ground cornmeal, or pasta pulverized in an electric blender, to sprinkle on unmolding board so as to prevent dough from sticking
  • The largest baking sheet that will fit into your oven
  • A razor blade for slashing the top of the dough
  • A soft pastry brush or fine-spray atomizer for moistening dough before and during baking
  • A room temperature thermometer to verify rising-temperature
  • 3 long loaves, baguettes, 24 by 2 inches
  • Or bâtards, 16 by 3 inches
  • Or 6 short loaves, ficelles, 12 to 16 by 2 inches
  • Or 3 round loaves, boules, 7 to 8 inches in diameter
  • Or 12 round or oval rolls, petits pains
  • Or 1 large round or oval loaf, pain de ménage or miche; pain boulot
  • 1 cake (0.6 ounce) fresh yeast or 1 package dry-active yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water (not over 100 degrees) in a measure
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 lb.) all-purpose flour, measured by scooping dry-measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups tepid water (70 to 74 degrees)



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