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Practical Baker
French Peasant Bread:
Courtesy Pat Genung
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 • Posted March 7, 2013

I was highly skeptical about this recipe when I dug it out of an old church school cookbook. It instructed me to add salt and yeast in the same liquid mixture at the same time, and that’s a “no-no,” since salt has a reputation of killing yeast. Secondly, there was no kneading of the dough, at any point in the bread making process! That’s another “no-no,” because kneading helps develop the gluten needed to give the dough structure. But, true to form, I went ahead and made it just at Pat Genung said to make it, and it turned out quite well. Handling the wet, sticky dough was a bit of a challenge, but the results were excellent, and for those of you who are “kneading averse” people, this may be one you want to try.

Ingredients:

2 cups lukewarm water

1 package dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups all purpose flour

Cornmeal for the baking sheet

2 tablespoons melted butter to brush on the bread

Process:

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved.

Stir in bread flour. Add enough flour to where the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl; after you’ve added your 4th cup, start adding more, a quarter of a cup at a time, until the dough is just barely workable.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface while cleaning and greasing the mixing bowl. (If you have another large bowl, grease it ahead of time and move the freshly mixed dough directly into the second, prepared bowl.

Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Flour your hands and divide the dough into two parts, shaping each into an oblong shape.

Place these loaves on your prepared baking sheet and allow them to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush loaves with some of the melted butter.

Bake for 10 minutes at this temperature; reduce temperature to 375 degrees; bake 20 more minutes at this temperature.

When done to a nice golden brown, remove from oven, and brush tops with remaining butter.

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