Kanda in the Kitchen II: Soft French Bread

Although the crust doesn’t get as crispy with regular French bread, the crumb structure is very similar to it. Depending on the size of your breads, could make anywhere from 4-6 mini loaves. I usually double the recipe to make 8 lunch-sized loaves.

Difficulty: 2 stars (**)
It’s difficult when first making bread since you’ll be unsure how the dough should feel and how much the dough should rise, but once you get the hang of it, it’s rather easy! If you don’t have a stand mixer, this could be up to 3 stars due to the energy needed to hand-knead your dough.

Time needed: ~150 minutes (2.5 hours)
This includes rise time for the dough of roughly 90-120 minutes altogether. The actual amount of work you’ll do is roughly 20~30 minutes.

Ingredients

200g bread flour (can be a mixture of all-purpose and bread)
½ tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
5g butter or margarine (at room temperature)
145ml milk (heated to activate yeast; the fattier the better)
(Enough butter to leave on bread prior to baking)

Variations

Each line is a separate flavoring addition–don’t get too crazy!

20g dukkah & 10g Za’atar spice blend (substitute butter for olive oil prior to baking)
25g curry powder/spice blend

Method

  1. Whisk flour to rid of lumps.
  2. Make a crater in the middle—add milk & spread yeast in it evenly with the sugar.
  3. Add salt to the rim of the crater to avoid it killing the yeast.
  4. Mix milk mixture first to activate yeast.
  5. Add butter to milk mixture.
  6. If using a mixer, use dough hook and mix until the dough doesn’t really stick to bowl, which usually takes about 10~15 minutes, including mixing/kneading time.
    On KitchenAid mixers, you may go up to setting level 2.
  7. If using your hands, mix with a dough scoop/cutter or wooden spoon until the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl.
  8. Knead on a cutting board (with or without flour or oil) until the dough stays well together.
  9. Once done kneading, leave in a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit for about 45 minutes. The dough should rise to about two times its original size.
    If the room is warmer, the dough will rise faster. Conversely, if the room is cooler, the dough will take longer to rise.
  10. Knock back the dough by kneading the air out of it. Cut the dough into as many loaves as you’d like, and let rest for about 5 minutes before shaping.
  11. To shape the dough, roll or press dough into circles, then roll in one direction. Close the gaps at the bottom/ends by pinching together.
  12. Cover with a tea towel or plastic bag and let rise one more time to around double the size.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes on 375 degrees F.
    • Before baking, score the bread to allow for the bread to expand nicely. You can coat the slit with a small block of butter or a bit of olive oil.

Notes

  • I’ve noticed his type of bread doesn’t quite take well to sweet flavorings.
  • When experimenting with your own flavors, I try to keep the amount of dry ingredients to about 1/10th of the dough’s weight (in this case it’s usually 25g or less) as to not inhibit the yeast or change the structure of the dough.
  • With wet ingredients, you can account for how much additional moisture is being added and lessen the amount of milk.
  • The photo is the variation featuring dukkah and za’atar.

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