French Bread (bread machine)
Source of Recipe
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons Instant Active Dry Yeast
Cornmeal (optional for dusting pan)
Place all ingredients except cornmeal in bread pan of your bread machine. Select dough setting and press start. When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. (I use a nonstick cooking spray). Form dough into an oval, cover with a plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
After resting, turn dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Fold dough into an envelope by folding the top 1/3 of the way to the bottom. Then fold the bottom a 1/3 of the way over the top. Then press dough with the palm of your hand to make an indentation down the center of the dough and fold the top completely to the bottom, sealing the seam with the palm of your hand. Place on a jelly roll pan dusted with cornmeal. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise, approximately 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After rising, slash the bread with a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Brush or spray the top of the bread with cold water and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. (A good check is to use an instant digital thermometer to test your bread. The temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees.)
NOTE: This is a typical mixture that professional bakers use to get that characteristic sheen on breads. I keep this mixture in my refrigerator to use on all the breads I bake.
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cornstarch.
In a small saucepan, with a small whisk, stir together water and cornstarch. Heat mixture to a gentle boil. Stir, reduce heat, until mixture thickens and is translucent. Cool. Brush on loaf about 10 minutes before baking is finished and again 3 minutes before bread is completely done.