French Bread

French Bread

The French call their long, slender loaves of crusty bread “pain ordiaire,” or “everyday bread.” They serve it at almost every meal, from breakfast where it accompanies the morning coffee or hot chocolate, through dinner, where it is used to “mop up” every bit of sauce or gravy.

Because of its bland flavor, it may accompany any main dish. Its crispness makes it a special attraction withsoups, salads and soft entrees such as spaghetti or eggs. It may even appear at the dessert course when dessert is cheese and fruit.

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups warm water (105°-115°F.)
2 packages or cakes yeast, active dry or compressed
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon melted margarine
7 cups unsifted flour
Cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon cold water

Method

[1] Measure warm water into large warm mixing bowl. Sprinkle or crumble in the yeast; stir until dissolved. Add salt and margarine. Add flour and stir until well blended (dough will be sticky). Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

[2] Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Divide into 2 equal portions. Roll each into an oblong 15 x 10 inches. Beginning at wide side, roll up tightly towards you; seal edges by pinching together. Taper ends by rolling gently back and forth.

[3] Place loaves on greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. With razor, make 4 diagonal cuts on top of each loaf.

[4] Bake in hot oven (450° F.) 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with egg white mixed with cold water. Return to oven, bake 5 minutes longer.