Since committing to a vegan lifestyle and adding a bunch of other healthy rules to our diet, I can honestly say the one and only thing that I miss from my old standard American Diet is crusty French bread dipped in olive oil or soup. In Lancaster, we can’t buy crusty French bread that is organic and whole wheat so I set out to make it myself. I searched the web for a recipe and found a blog recipe for Authentic French Bread from Boo’s a veg-a-nut. I made 4 batches before I created the masterpiece that I wanted. I added sugar and made small baguette loaves to increase the crust-factor. Here is my spin on Sheree’s recipe – thanks Sheree.
1 cup of water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of organic whole wheat bread flour
1 cup of organic whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp of yeast (this is more than one packet of yeast)
1 teaspoon organic sugar
about 1/3 cup corn meal on baking sheet
Add all ingredients (except cornmeal) to a bread maker and set it on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle concludes (about 1 hour and 20 minutes), remove the dough and divide into two balls. Roll each ball in a “worm” (like play dough) about 12 inches long. Make sure the “worm” is consistently the same width. Pour corn meal in two strips on a cookie sheet. I was surprised at the amount of cornmeal needed to prevent sticking, better to use too much than not enough. Cut slits in the baguettes with a sharp knife. Brush the tops of each baguette with water to keep the dough from drying out. Cover with a towel and place somewhere warm for about 45 minutes. (Our house is very cold in the winter so I turn the oven on for literally 1 minute and then turn it off. I place the dough in the oven to keep it warm.) After 45 minutes, (remove from oven if using it for rising) preheat the oven to 450º. Brush the baguettes with more water and place in the oven (in my oven the second rack level from the bottom out of 5 levels worked best). Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Bread will be very crisp on the outside, but still soft inside.