A super dough which lends itself to delightful variations in shape and size.
1 x 8 g sachet instant yeast
750 ml cake flour
375 ml lukewarm water
30 ml butter or margarine
15 ml sugar
10 ml salt
± 250 ml extra cake flour
Salt water glaze (for a crisp crust)
30 ml water
5 ml salt
coarse salt to sprinkle (optional)
Egg glaze (for sheen and to make seeds stick)
1 large egg
30 ml water
sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
- Mix the yeast with the 3 cups (750 ml) flour in a mixing bowl, add all the remaining ingredients except the extra flour and mix well.
- Add sufficient extra flour to form a soft, slightly sticky but kneadable dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead 4 – 5 minutes or until smooth and no longer sticky.
- Flour the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, sprinkle with flour, cover and allow to rise in a mildly warm spot until doubled. Knead down the dough lightly with floured hands.
- To make french loaves, divide the dough into 3 to 4 portions, roll each portion into an elongated loaf according to the thickness and length desired and place onto rectangular baking trays greased with butter or margarine.
- Brush with salt water glaze if a crisp crust is desired or beat together the egg and water and brush with the egg glaze.
- Sprinkle with seeds if used and make a few deep diagonal slashes on top with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. Or make lengthwise slashes with a knife.
- Place the loaves in a mildly warm protected spot to rise until completely doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C while the loaves are rising.
- Place the loaves into the oven and bake 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 170°C and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Yields: 3 – 4 French loaves