From The Vegetarian Epicure, Anna Thomas, Penguin Books, 1979.
I was making a soup so wanted a bread to go with it. I decided to try this French bread.
Two different mixes were prepared at the beginning. One was made by sprinkling ½ tablespoon dried yeast on 100ml lukewarm water. While this was doing its thing I made the other mixture. This was for ½ tablespoon butter, ½ tablespoon salt and ½ tablespoon sugar to be placed in a bowl and 200ml boiling water poured over. This was stirred and left to cool down to lukewarm at which stage the yeast mixture was added.
The flour, about 350g, was added a little at a time until it had become quite thick. The dough was kneaded for about 10 minutes until it was smooth and elastic. It was put into a bowl and left to rise for an hour and a half in a warm place. However, it didn’t rise much at all, not nearly as much as it should have. It was left for another hour when it was a little better, though not much. I punched it down and left it for another hour. Better, though not as good as it should have been.
It was now rolled out into a little over 30cm by 15cm. This was folded over longwise and pinched to seal the edges. It was now about 6cm wide. The long loaf was cut into two smaller ones. A baking tray was sprinkled with polenta and the oven turned to 200ºC. The two loaves were placed on the tray and left to rise again, supposedly to double their size. They achieved some of this.
A tray of cold water was placed in the oven. The loaves were brushed with cold water and some diagonal cuts made across the tops. They went into the oven for about an hour.
The loaves were disappointing in that they didn’t rise as they should have. The bread worked reasonably well with the soup that it was meant to accompany. It was a little saltier than I would have liked. If I should attempt this again I would cut the salt amount by half.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔