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BREAD DOUGH A LA FRANCAISE
This rustic French dough is ideal as a base for pizza type dishes such as Pissaladière - see recipe or just as a bread cut in thick slices with good cheese and chopped walnuts, fresh herbs and olives.
2 teaspoons dried yeast or 15 g (½ oz) fresh yeast
250 g (2 cups) strong plain (all-purpose) flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
MAKES 1 LOAF
Mix the yeast with 125 ml (½ cup) warm water. Leave for 10 minutes in a warm place until the yeast becomes frothy. If the yeast does not bubble and foam in this time, throw it away and start again.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, olive oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough clumps together and forms a ball.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding a little more flour or a few drops of warm water if necessary, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky but is dry to the touch. Knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth, and the impression made by a finger springs back immediately.
Rub the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to coat it with oil, then cut a shallow cross on the top of the ball with a sharp knife. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel or put in a plastic bag and leave in a draught-free spot for 1 - 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size (or leave in the fridge for 8 hours to rise slowly).
Knock back the dough by punching it with your fist several times to expel the air and then knead it again for a couple of minutes. (At this stage the dough can be stored in the fridge for 4 hours, or frozen. Bring back to room temperature before continuing). Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. Place in a tin, on a baking tray or use as directed in the recipe, then bake at 230°C (450°F/Gas 8) for 30 minutes. When cooked, the base of the bread will sound hallow when tapped.
THE FOOD OF FRANCE
A real taste of a country that has made food one of the great joys of everyday life. Join our culinary journey from the restaurants of Lyon to the kitchens of Provence, through the vineyards of Bordeaux to the bakers of Paris. Each recipe is photographed right as it is made and is accompanied by useful hints on methods and ingredients.