I took the advice of Christine B, allowing my bread maker to do all the work (kneading, allowing to rise, kneading again, et al), then I removed the dough, punched it a time or two, kneaded it a couple of times, then cut it in half before shaping into two torpedo type rolls in preparation of baking it in the oven. Good suggestion!
I then followed the instructions of John Rahn Braue who authored Uncle John’s Original Bread Book. He suggested painting a solution of water, salt and cornstarch on three sides of each loaf, then allow it to rise an additional hour before baking. In addition he said to put a large pan of water on the bottom rack (I used a 13″ x 9″ cake pan), and to put the bread on the upper rack. The bread cooked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then for an additional 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Although it turned out beeeeautiful (photo shows all), I plan to adjust the heat a little next time though and cook it 5 or 10 minutes less.
Wow! Great crusty white french bread. It reminded me of the little Parisan restaurant I ate at in Trier, France. We had a simple country meal of some type of soup and a small loaf of French Bread, with a wonderful golden brown crust. There was a crockery of butter on the table, a small bowl filled with a flavorful dipping oil and a plate of cheeses and fruit. Naturally there was a carafe of red wine to enhance the overall meal.
It doesn’t get any better than this. Preparing the dough in the bread maker makes sense, and letting it bake in the oven brings out that wonderful aroma of bread baking. The best of both worlds.
Thanks Christine! Thanks John!
“How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” – Julia Child