French Bread - Careme's Recipe

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“My wife made this while we were at church camp. The crust was nice and crusty, and the bread itself was so tender and moist that I burnt myself a little bit on the steam when I cut into it. Despite making 2 loaves per table, there were no left-overs. This is a lot of work but the result is definitely worth it (and most of the prep time is rising). Taken from "Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads". This book claims that the recipe was from the famed French chef Careme.”
5hrs 30mins
4 loaves

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. MIXING: Using an electric mixer with the flat beater (or by hand, but you'll be exhausted) add 3 cups of flour to the bowl and mix in the 2.5 cups water and the yeast. Add up to 1 more cup flour to make a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix for 9 minutes. Monitor the dough to make sure that it does not creep up the sides of the bowl and onto the motor. Push it down with a spatula if required.
  2. While dough is being worked, dissolve salt and water. Add at the end of the 9 minutes, and mix 1 more minute.
  3. KNEAD: Switch to the dough hook for the mixer and knead for another 10 minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until dough pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. FIRST RISING: Put dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should double or triple in volume.
  5. KNEAD: Gently remove dough from bowl and place onto a work surface. Knead by hand for 3 minutes.
  6. SECOND RISING: Put dough back into bowl and re-cover. Allow to rise 1.5 hours (dough should double or triple).
  7. SHAPING: Flour a work surface and gently remove dough from bowl onto the work surface. Punch down the dough and cut into 4 pieces. Allow dough to rest 5 minutes. Shape 4 pieces into baguettes or rounds. Place the shaped dough on a greased baking sheet (depending on the size of your baking sheet you may need to use 2 of them).
  8. THIRD RISING: Once shaped dough is on baking sheet, cover with cloth or paper towel and allow to rise for 1 hour. Dough should double in size.
  9. BAKING: Place an empty broiler pan on the floor of the oven. Then preheat oven to 450°F Once oven is preheated add 1 cup hot water to the broiler pan to develop steam in the oven (be careful you don't burn yourself on the initial burst of steam) and wait 5 minutes.
  10. Place baking sheet(s) in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes. I use a convection oven so I do not need to rotate during baking. Keep an eye on the bread to make sure it is cooking evenly if you have an oven with hot spots.
  11. The loaves should be golden-brown and should sound hard and hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  12. Remove loaves from pan and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself, then slice and enjoy!

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