The ingredients needed for this are:
300ml water [I use cold]
1.5 tsp salt
2tbsp milk powder
1lb 2oz bread flour [strong flour]
2 tsp yeast [I use Dove's Farm quick yeast]
This is the water in the bottom and then all the other ingredients added in the order they are listed above. Then I put the bread machine on for the "Dough" cycle and leave it to do its thing for 90 minutes.
After 90 minutes, it has risen and looks like this.
I try to get every scrap of dough out of the pan with a spatula, and then I knead it on a floured surface, before dividing it into two equal pieces.
Each piece is then kneaded a tiny bit more and rolled out to about 10" by 3" or as near as I can get it!
I fold the top third down to the middle, then the bottom third up over it, and then turn it over so that the seam is at the bottom of the dough.
Each piece is carefully laid in the baking tin with the right side uppermost, and at this point it has to rise again. Sometimes I leave it out on the counter, covered with a tea towel, and it rises over about 45 minutes to an hour. Other times, I pop it in the fridge overnight [about 7 or 8 hours] and it rises more slowly.
This is what this batch looked like after a chilly night in the fridge!
I then baked it at 200C for about 20 minutes, but check your own oven as it may cook more quickly or slower than mine. Just for the last few minutes, I turn the sticks upside down so that the bobbly part is uppermost.
When it comes out of the oven, I wrap each stick separately in a tea towel and then cover both with another one [this one IS clean, just tea-stained, sorry!!]. This makes the bread reabsorb some of the steam so that the crust is softened a little.
And that is my French stick tutorial - I hope you try it out.
The French stick baking tin came from Amazon but it has more than doubled in price since I bought mine in November 2007 for £3.30!!
I first used this recipe when it was shared on the Old Style Forum at MSE, by a poster called D&DD, I think. I have her to thank for many years of using this recipe for my family and friends to enjoy!