Fat-free Country-style French Bread

After making yesterday’s nan, I was left with 1/2 a recipe of bread dough. I considered freezing it, but instead decided to make a loaf bread to go with the spring pea soup I had for dinner. It was wonderfully  warm and crusty, and the perfect vehicle for the thick and creamy soup (whoever originally thought of bread and beans was an evil genius).

A couple of tips for bread with crisp crust and a light, spongy interior:

  • Adequately preheat your oven (at least twenty minutes)
  • Once the dough has been initially kneaded and proofed, do not overwork it getting into a shape.
  • Make sure that your hands and any tools you use to shape the bread are dusted with all-purpose or semolina flour so that they are less inclined to stick.
  • Shape your dough when it is chilled– if it is at room temperature, it will be very difficult to work with, particularly because it is oil-free.
  • Introduce steam into the cooking process. In France, many bakers use steam-injected ovens for this purpose. Suitable alternatives for home chefs include filling the drip pan with water before putting the bread in the oven to bake, misting inside the oven with a hot fabric steamer while the bread bakes, or placing a pan of water on the rack below the baking bread.

Ingredients

1/2 recipe nan-e-barbari dough (sans seeds), chilled for 2 hours or more
2 tablespoons semolina flour (or an equivalent amount of all-purpose flour)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On a baking tray that has been lined with a silicone mat, sprinkle the semolina.
  3. Pour the dough on top of the semolina, and shape it into a long loaf using your hands and/or a bench scraper. You can shape the dough into any shape you prefer (loaf, boule, etc.). I find that long, thin loaves are easiest to slice.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake for 15 minutes more, until the loaf is a crispy golden brown color.
    French Bread
    Fat-free Country-style French Bread

    Fat-free Country-style French Bread

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Total Time: 45 minutes

    Yield: 12 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 recipe nan-e-barbari dough (sans seeds), chilled for 2 hours or more
    • 2 tablespoons semolina flour (or an equivalent amount of all-purpose flour)

    Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
    2. On a baking tray that has been lined with a silicone mat, sprinkle the semolina.
    3. Pour the dough on top of the semolina, and shape it into a long loaf using your hands and/or a bench scraper. You can shape the dough into any shape you prefer (loaf, boule, etc.). I find that long, thin loaves are easiest to slice.
    4. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake for 15 minutes more, until the loaf is a crispy golden brown color.
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3 thoughts on “Fat-free Country-style French Bread

  1. I recently learned a cool method for getting steam into the equation. I will try to post the link at some point, but basically, I bake a round loaf on parchment paper inside a pottery bowl with a pot lid on top (some day I will be able to afford a Dutch oven!). Then about 20 minutes before baking is done, remove the lid to brown the crust. This has worked phenomenally for me!

    1. I’ve been super successful with the drip pan method (shout out to the British Bake off for that one). The key is getting the oven really hot before pouring in the water.

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