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French Bread

This French bread uses ascorbic acid, which makes an especially light loaf as it makes the bread less dense. The acidity is also supposed to make the bread last longer.You can buy ascorbic acid in health food stores sold under the name of "Vitamin C Crystals" or powdered vitamin C.

ingredients

makes 2 loaves
2 tsp dried yeast + 1 tsp sugar (or 15 g fresh yeast)
1 cup (8 fl oz) 250 ml hand hot water
25 mg tablet ascorbic acid
3 1/2 cup (1 lb) 400 g strong white flour
1 tsp salt

method

1. Stir the dried yeast and sugar into the water and leave until yeast has completely dissolved and mixture is frothy about 10 mins in a warm place or blend the fresh yeast with the water. Crush the ascorbic acid tablet and stir into the yeast liquid.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast liquid to the flour all at once and mix to a soft dough.

3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead by folding the dough towards you and then pushing down away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the procedure, gradually developing a rocking rhythm. Continue kneading until the dough is firm and no longer sticky - this takes about 10 mins.

4. Place dough in a greased polythene bag and leave to rise for 20 mins in a warm place.

5. Divide dough into 2, and gently roll each piece into an oblong approx 41 cm long.

6. Gently roll up the dough swiss-roll fashion and place on a lightly floured baking sheet.

7. Make 5 diagonal slashes 6 cm apart along the length of the loaf.

8. Brush with salt water. Leave the dough uncovered in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

9. Bake in a hot oven 220°C (425°F) gas mark 7 with a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven.

10. After 15 mins remove the bowl of water and bake until the loaves are very crisp and well-browned (about 15-20 mins).

tip

The shaped dough is proved uncovered so that the surface dries out and a very crisp crust is obtained. This can only be done when the volume of dough is as small as in this case, otherwise the bread splits open on baking.

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