I am always on the look out for a great bread recipe. For me, a great bread is one that has a crunchy crust and is light and fluffy on the inside without being too crumbly or too doughy. I love the ‘No Knead Bread’ shared by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery which is my go to bread when I want a decent home-baked loaf. The only down side, and it’s not a deal breaker, is the time required to make the No Knead Bread. From start to finish you are looking at a minimum of 14 hours. This is not a big deal since the bread is wonderful and so it’s worth the wait. However, if you want bread for dinner tonight, the No Knead Bread won’t cut it.
This French crusty bread recipe, the original of which was given to us by the folks over at Land O Lakes, yields 3 baguettes and requires approximately 3 hours, plus cooking time. This may seem time-consuming but the reality is that throughout the vast majority of that time the bread is left alone to do its thing. Plus, when compared to a minimum of 14 hours, it seems like no time at all!
While the recipe was not vegan, it was simple to adapt, in that the egg was omitted and soy milk was used in its place.
Only a couple of other variations were made.
Firstly, I used 1/2 Tbsp of salt rather than the 1 Tbsp provided for in the recipe. Salt is certainly needed in bread, but since I tend not to use much salt in my cooking I felt that I would try the bread using only half the amount of salt suggested. It worked for me, for my hubby and for my son – you of course can decide for yourself, but a 1/2 Tbsp worked well.
Secondly, as this was a French Bread recipe, I decided to do as the French do and use steam to help make the crust of the bread crunchy and hard. Before pre-heating the oven, place a metal tray at the bottom of the oven. Then, immediately after the bread is put in the oven pour a cup of hot water into the hot metal tray. This will cause a cloud of steam to fill the oven and will make the bread crust beautifully crunchy. As you can see from the photographs the crust was perfect!
This recipe yields 3 good size French sticks and is definitely my go to bread when I want to make bread the same day. If you do not want 3 loaves then you can either reduce the quantity of each of the ingredients, or like me simply slice the bread and freeze for use later to make garlic breads, or to toast and use with a variety of dips and spreads. Toast a couple of slices for breakfast topped with sliced banana and Agave syrup. Try it toasted with crunchy peanut butter for a mid-morning snack.
- 7g or 1/4oz of dried instant yeast
- 2¼ cups warm water (105-115F)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 5 cups bread/bakers flour or plain/all purpose flour (I recommend using bread/bakers flour)
- ½ Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp soy milk
- 1-2 cups of boiling water
- Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a large bowl, stir in the sugar and let the mixture stand for 45 minutes.
- Stir in 3 cups of flour along with the ½ Tbsp of salt and mix until smooth. Then stir in another 1 cup of the four and mix well. Continue adding more of the flour until the dough is able to be handled.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes.
- Put the dough ball into a greased bowl, which is at least twice the size of the dough ball, and roll the dough so that it has a covering of the oil. Cover, loosely, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size - approximately 1½ hours. The dough is ready when you can press your finger into the dough and the indent remains.
- When ready, punch down the dough. Literally. Make a fist and punch down into the bowl knocking the air out of the dough to prevent large holes in the bread.
- Divide the dough into three and shape each third into a 15 inch baguette loaf, a round loaf or a combination of both and place onto a baking sheet.
- Cover the dough and let rise again until double in size (approximately 30 minutes).
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6, place a metal tray at the bottom of the oven and put the kettle on to boil a cup or so of water.
- Brush the loaves with the milk and slash the top of each loaf with a knife 3-4 times.
- Put the loaves into the middle of the hot oven and immediately before closing the oven door pour the boiling water into the hot metal tray at the bottom of the oven, releasing a large puff of steam.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack.
- I do however recommend that you pull a chunk off the end of one of the warm freshly baked loaves, cover with vegan butter and chow down immediately!
I highly recommend this bread, it ticks all the boxes for a great rustic French loaf. Enjoy!