Don got this recipe from his mother. When he was a little boy and his family lived in France, one of his daily joys was walking or biking to the local boulangerie for a loaf of bread. Sometimes he would spread camebert cheese on the sliced bread and enjoy it that way. Georgette the maid would often slice off a hunk, split it lengthwise and put dark chocolate in it for an after-school treat.
This bread is as close as you can get to the baguettes from the boulangerie in the center of Barbizon, France.
(4 servings each)
2 1/2 C warm water
1 or 2 packages of dry yeast
2 T sugar (or you can use honey)
1 T salt
7 C unbleached flour
White of 1 or 2 eggs
Stir the yeast until it is dissolved in the warm water and add the sugar and salt. Mix the yeast mixture and 7 cups of flour, adding 1/2 cup at a time and mixing it in. Knead on a well floured surface for 10 minutes after the last of the flour is combined.
Rinse and dry the mixing bowl to remove any remaining mixure. Coat the inside of the bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl then turn it so the oiled side is up.
Let raise covered in a warm place until double in bulk. (About an hour in our house.)
Punch down and knead 3 or 4 times to remove the air. Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape into loaves.
Place into well greased French bread pans. (If you don’t have the pans, just place the loaves spaced apart on greased cookie sheets so they don’t touch.) Slash the tops of the loaves on a diagonal and brush with egg white. Let raise until double in bulk.
Bake at 450F degrees for 15 minutes and continue baking for another 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from pan and let cool.
Cut and eat immediately spread with delicious butter or cheese. Divide the loaves in half, wrap in foil, place in plastic bags and freeze if not eating it all right away. To serve, remove the foil-wrapped loaf from the plastic bag and heat in a 350F degree oven for 20 minutes. Should be soft when squeezed.
Makes four loaves. Sometimes it serves 20 people; sometimes only a few hungry ones, drawn in by the fragrance wafting throughout the house.