Hey gents!  I have been making my own bread now for a couple of years and I just can't get the loaf to taste like the bakery bread.  It always tastes like it comes from the bread machine ( I don't even have one!!) 

I have tried a sourdough starter and other types of yeast strains; I use bread flour; ive tried different types of fats and oils; I have hand kneaded and used my wife's kitchen aide... all to no avail.  Don't get me wrong the bread tastes good.  It just isn't like the bakery...I hate to name drop, but one that I think everyone knows is Panera.  Although it isn't as good as what I experienced in Rome, Italy but it gives me something to work up to.

What I am looking for is a simple, basic (think old world) recipe to make a nice, soft, chewy loaf of french bread that I can cut for small sandwiches or eat by itself.  Thought you guys could help me out.  I am going to try to make a one this weekend.  Also it is just me and my wife so we don't need a recipe that makes a bunch of bread, just a small loaf.

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B -- have you tried baking bread in the style found in books like "My Bread" by J Lahey, or "Tartine Bread" by C Roberston, or "Flour Water Salt Yeast" by K Forkish? Fabulous results, in my not so humble opinion.

Sounds like you need to let your starter develop into a fine culture, to help bring a richer taste to your bread. Can be time-consuming, but worth it I think.

Wish you success.
JJacob

I have a recipe you might like. Its at home though I'll try to remember to get it at lunch. I have had great success with it. In fact, we had some last night that I had frozen from my last batch and it was almost as good as fresh out the oven (that is hard to replicate).

It's a McCall's recipe from 1984 I believe. The techniques I employ are these.

Use good, quality honey, not refined sugar.
Be obsessive about the water temperature when combining with the yeast

Use all-purpose flour (not bread flour) for this recipe.

just before baking, baste the loaves with a generous amount of cold water (this is what will give you a brown, hard crust yet keep the inner part of the loaf soft and chewy.

I have been making this bread with success for over 10 years now, and every holiday season I reserve one loaf for my bread pudding. I've gotten rave reviews.

I added rosemary and garlic to two of these loaves

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