Food Processor French-Style Bread

When the weather is hot, no one wants to stay in the kitchen long. However, those of us who truly enjoy baking bread want our own creations all year long. We soon learn that we must work faster during the summer months, leaving the rest of the year for the more involved recipes with longer, slower rising times.

This French-style bread is made in the food processor for speed, but can be made by hand. It's shaped into baguettes, which bake much faster than regular loaves of bread. It's a basic loaf which lends itself to variations. Use your imagination; if an idea sounds good, try it! We've listed some ideas in our "tips" section below.
Prep
18 mins
Bake
20 mins
Total
2 hrs 23 mins
Yield
4 loaves
Food Processor French-Style Bread

Instructions

  1. Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and sugar in a measuring cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until bubbles appear.
  2. Put all of the flour and salt into the work bowl of a food processor. Using the plastic (dough) blade, pulse four times to lighten and mix.
  3. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture, then 90°F water as fast as the flour will absorb it. Stop the machine as soon as all the liquid has been added.
  4. Check the dough by pulsing it 7 or 8 times. It should pull together to form a ball. Watch the processor bowl where the side meets the bottom; if there are still bits of unincorporated flour, the dough is too dry. Pulse in water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough pulls together to form a ball. If the dough clings to the sides of the bowl, it's too wet; gradually add more flour while pulsing.
  5. The formation of the ball marks the beginning of the kneading process. Turn the machine on and let "knead" for 60 seconds — don't let it knead any longer! If you have to use a metal blade, only "knead" 45 seconds and finish kneading by hand for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
  7. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into an oval about 15" x 8". Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a 15" cylinder. Pinch the edges to the body of dough, tapering the ends evenly.
  8. Place the dough seam-side down into well-greased baguette pans or onto parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheets, leaving about 4" between the loaves. Cover the loaves with a piece of greased plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.
  9. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a shallow metal pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.
  10. Just before baking, slash the loaves diagonally with a sharp blade, about 1/4" deep. Brush lightly with egg glaze.
  11. Place the loaves into the oven, and add 1 cup of ice cubes to the pan on the bottom. Close the door quickly to preserve the steam.
  12. Bake the bread for 20 minutes, or until its internal temperature reaches 190°F. The loaves should be golden brown all around, smell fragrant, and feel lighter when picked up.
  13. Remove the loaves from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
  14. Store the bread at room temperature for 2 days in plastic; or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You might try adding 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives (either green or black or a combination of both for interesting color), or 1 cup of shredded Parmesan. Add any of these with the flour. You can also substitute 2 cups of another type of flour for an equal amount of the unbleached flour — whole wheat or rye are great. Understand the loaves will be denser and heavier than those made with 100% all-purpose flour.
  • You can omit the egg wash if you'd prefer the rustic, floury look in the photo. After the loaves are shaped, gently roll them in flour, then then let them rise and bake as directed.