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Crusty French Pistou Bread

Yield 2 loaves
Pistou (pees-TOO) is the French version of pesto--a combination of basil, garlic, and olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/3 cups hot water (120° to 130°)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

How to Make It

  1. Combine 3 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients; add oil and next 4 ingredients, and beat at low speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer until blended.

  2. Add 1 1/3 cups hot water; beat at medium speed until blended. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding remaining flour as needed. Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.

  3. Let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

  4. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a round loaf, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

  5. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Make 1/2-inch-deep slashes in top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Combine egg and 1 tablespoon water, stirring well; gently brush mixture over loaves.

  6. Place a shallow pan on lower oven rack; fill with boiling water. Place loaves on middle rack.

  7. Bake at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.