This recipe showed up somehow in my Facebook feed this morning on a day I was going to make bread anyway. It’s another bake along type challenges, with Bread Baking Babes & Bread Baking Buddies. I didn’t quite understand, until asking, what the difference is. The Babes are the regular cast and the rest are Buddies.IMG_2346
Anyhow, this bread is Robert May’s French Bread from the year 1660 A.D. It’s in his book The Accomplisht Cook; Or, The Art and Mystery of Cooking. It came to Ilva of Lucullian Delights via Elizabeth David’s In English Bread and Yeast Cookery.

Since it’s French, I decorated the top with a fleur de lys. It sure turned out pretty. I varied the recipe slightly due to the yeast I had on hand and a couple of my own favorite bread baking techniques. The bread has a nice crumb and is quite tasty. It should make lovely toast tomorrow morning.

Robert May’s French Bread
(my adaptation of yeast and baking techniques)

500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheatmeal
7g of instant yeast
2 egg whites
1/4 cup of milk mixed with 3/4 cup warm water, plus extra water if needed
10 g salt

Put yeast, salt & flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Beat egg whites with a little of the water milk mixture until a little frothy. Add it to the flour. Add the remaining water milk mixture. Knead until you get a smooth dough. You may need to add bit more water at this point. Once the gluten is developed and the dough is smooth and glossy, put into an oiled bowl, turning once and cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until spongy and light.

Pull off a piece of dough to use for decoration. Form into a free-form round loaf and put into a rising basket or a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and dusted with flour.

Preheat your over to 450°F, with your Baking Steel or pizza stone in it. Dust your baking peel with cornmeal. Prepare you decorations. I rolled out the saved dough piece and used a cookie cutter for my Fleur de Lys.

After the dough has risen again, about 30-45 minutes, flip it overonto your cornmeal dusted peel. Brush the areas you want to put your decorations with a little water and put the decorations on. Slide onto the pre-heated Baking Steel or pizza stone. To get better oven spring I use a water bottle and spray the sides of the oven several times during the first few minutes of baking. Then this time I put a metal bowl over the loaf, a technique I just learned from one of the Bread Baking Babes. Remove the bowl after 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F. Continue cooking another 20-25 minutes until the bottom is browned, hollow when tapped and the internal temperature is 200°F at least. Use and instant read thermometer inserted from the bottom to test.

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It’s a yummy bread.