Boule (French Bread)

Boule (French Bread)

3 cups lukewarm water     (100° F)
1 ½ T. yeast (2 packets)
1 ½ T. salt
6 ½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza pan

Place water in a 5-quart bowl or sealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic container

Add yeast and salt to water (don’t worry about it dissolving)

Add all the flour at once, measuring it in the dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula.

Mix with a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform.  You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  Cover with the lid.

Allow to rise for two hours on the kitchen counter until it begins to collapse.  Refrigerate dough overnight.

The next morning take grapefruit size rounds (one recipe makes three).  Sprinkle with flour and shape into round or oval loaves by turning the dough ¼ of a turn under and around for 30-60 seconds.  No kneading necessary.

Let rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza pan or other baking sheet for about 40 minutes.

After 20 minutes of rising time, pre-heat your oven to 450° F. with a baking stone in the oven to heat up.  Also put a broiler pan in the oven ready to add water later.

Dust liberally with flour and slash the tops of the loaves ¼ inch deep in a cross, “scallop” or tic-tac to pattern using a serrated knife.

Place the bread on the heated baking stone in the oven.  Pour 1 cup of water in the broiler pan for the steam to begin.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

Cool completely on cooling rack.

If you only make one loaf of bread, store dough in the lidded container and use within the next 14 days.