French Bread – The First Rise & Shaping

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 60,892
    Chef Amy Riolo demonstrates the first rise and shaping the bread when making french bread.

    Amy Riolo: Hi, I am Amy Riolo. Today we are making French Pains au Lait and we just made our dough and we let it rise for two hours. We covered it with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and now that it has finished rising, I am going to show you what it looks like. It has practically doubled in volume and here is a tip. If you ever want to test if your dough is ready to work with all you have to do is stick a finger down in it. If the dough springs right back up at you, it's not ready. It still needs to rise more. But if the indentation stays in the dough, then that means that it's ready to work with.

    So this is a fun time when we can turn out the dough. One more time, I am going to put a little bit of flour, not a lot, because you don't really need it, but we are just going to knock it down and that is to press our hand in deflate it like this and then we are going to turn it out on to our work surface. Now I know it seems like you are doing a bad thing by deflating the dough because you just waited all of this time for the dough to rise and now you are deflating it.

    But you really have to deflate it, because once you deflate it, it distributes the gas and allows it to be distributed more evenly and this helps for your dough to be even and to rise properly. We have to let it rise one more time. So we have our piece of dough and this recipe yields either two, 8 inch long baguettes or six little what are called petite Pains au Lait or smaller rolls. So what we are going to do, just so that you can see both of them is we will make one baguette and then we will make three smaller rolls. So I am going to cut the dough with our bench press. This is what it comes in really handy for. You can also use a sharp knife if you don't have one of these at home, but these are absolutely perfect for working with dough and they are also great for scraping up extra little bits on your counter. So now we have half of the dough and we will use this half to make the baguette and what we are going to do is set it down on to the lightly floured surface and then we are going to slightly flatten it just a little bit. You don't have to flatten it all the way down, but just to make it nice and even. Then we are going to lightly flour our hands and take the dough and just roll it back and forth this way. As we roll it back and forth this way, this is what gives us our baguette shape. So we will keep rolling until it's about eight inches. You want to roll with this part of your palm and you don't want to roll so much that the dough becomes uneven. You just want to roll it very lightly and set it on your baking sheet.

    So it should look like this. Now we will make our Petite Pains or the smaller rolls. We are going to use the same fashion except for because they are so small, we only need to use one hand when we make them instead of using both hands. So we roll it, turn the dough over itself and then with the inside of the palm of our hand, we just roll back and forth this way until they are about five inches long. These are absolutely delicious in the morning you can have them with a little bit of butter on them or some fruit preserves. They are actually so rich that you don't really need anything at all. But they are nice to have in the morning or to have as part of a dinner or lunch.

    Now we are going to take the dough, roll it back over itself, lightly flour our palm and then roll back and forth with even pressure. You don't want to press down too hard, because that's going to deflate the dough and you don't want to do it too lightly or it won't work. You just want to go back and forth like this until you get to about five inches. Then we are going to space them evenly on to our baking sheet which we prepared earlier. We are going to do the same thing with this one. Turn the dough over itself and then roll back and forth with one hand.

    So that's our last piece and now we are going to cover both of our baking sheets with plastic wraps. A little trick is to always oil your plastic wrap, because if you keep your plastic wrap oiled then the dough won't stick to it. You can even use a baking spray to oil it with our you can butter it or you can use whatever you want. But this way when you pull it off, you won't get any indentation marks. So we will cover both of those, we will let them sit with for 20 minutes and when we come back we will bake our Pains au Lait.