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Dec 20, 2010 08:24 PM

Supermarket-style French Bread Recipe


I am in search for a recipe that would replicate/or is similar to the type of "french" bread that can be found at supermarket bakeries (Safeway, Raley's). I have tried Reinhart's french bread, Joy of baking, and another recipe that I have found in an old recipe pamphlet, but they have all tasted too artisan. I know, I know, this is what I should want from bread, and I love it, but I want to also be able to make the soft crust, fluffy soft, somewhat-tight crumb interior too. It is what my family is used to and they are stubborn. It was sad seeing my delicious, crusty sourdough baguettes being overlooked by Safeway french bread during a family gathering. I admit, I do enjoy a supermarket loaf every now and then.

I bake on a cookie sheet (not baking stone) and avoided creating steam to keep a soft crust, but how do I get the interior the type of fluffy softness that supermaket breads have? I was thinking, maybe milk?

I know I may get jeers from wanting to create a somewhat manufactured taste at home, but I am surprise that I can't seem to achieve it. Maybe this means I should look more into hydration and baker's math and such. I'll get there soon enough. I would love any advice or help I can get! Thanks in advance.

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  1. IMO, as good as it gets.

    1. Interesting. I'd try the opposite of Reinhart's techniques, less rise time, no sponge, lower temperature baking, no spritzing with water, ap flour instead of bread flour. You could add some ascorbic acid or vinegar to help the bread rise more quickly. It's the long slow rise that gives artisan bread its texture so making it rise quickly would reduce that, as would using regular AP flour. Maybe along the lines of this recipe:

      But, don't spray the loaf and bake at 350 instead, until internal temperature is 200-210.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser


        Thank you for this infomation. I admit, I follow bread recipes blindly because past successes and this was very enlightening. I'll attempt this today and see how it goes. I saw some recipes on allrecipes and they had even shorter rise time. I will most likely attempt those too.

      2. I think it's impossible to replicate grocery store bread at home because of the added conditioners and chemicals that home cooks don't have access to, however, this recipe for Italian Supermarket Bread from King Arthur Flour might give you a close approximation.

        4 Replies
        1. re: toveggiegirl

          I was just thinking that an "Italian" style recipe would do the trick. There's an Italian feather bread recipe in Beard on Bread that's somewhat along those lines (but tastes great).

          1. re: buttertart

            It seems like grocery stores just repackage the same bread and call it different things anyway--a little wider, call it Italian, narrow, call it french, square it up, call it Ciabatta.

            1. re: chowser

              Yup, my local grocer store sells the same loaf as Italian and French. The only difference is that the Italian loaf has one long score through the top of the loaf while the French has a few diagonal scores. For some reason, this is enough to merit 2 different names.

              1. re: chowser

                I know I am really late to the party but I baked commercially for several years, both scratch and..(grrrr, sorry, lol) frozen dough and the thaw and throw away garbage. All basic breads are a combination of flour, water, sugar, yeast, a fat, and salt and are a combination of a chemistry and a biology experiment combined. Yeast is fed by the sugar and to some extent any added fats which also texture the product, salt slows the yeasts processes because they cause heat and alcohol which will break down the gluten and thats when you get bread that tasted like cardboard. By varying the amounts and omitting various ingredients all your basic breads can be produced. Adding to the confusion some of the names are used interchangeably and Then throw supermarket style, traditional, artisan, hearth baked and some other modifiers in there ad you end up with an undecipherable mix of breads that boggles the mind.

                Supermarket French and Italian are the same dough and treated essentially similar through the process. French is usually recommended for hoagy style sandwiches, garlic bread, bread pizzas etc because you have a crust to support the whole thing and Italian is more for slicing. Baguettes are similar but fat free, as is ciabatta. Likewise Cuban is made with no sugar, forcing the yeast to use the flour and ideally lard but usually vegetable oil as food to proof the bread. Additionally, they have proof boxes that keep the temperature around 100 degrees and 99% humidity then a few minutes before they are ready for the oven the breads are usually floor proofed for a few minutes to slow the proofing process and let the surface dry so it can be cut which helps with additional proofing and also identification because a lot look the same coming out and a without counting the cuts are nearly impossible to identify by the packagers and such. Also most ovens used commercially are generally gas heated with forced draft and the capability to introduce fully vaporised steam to control the firmness of the crust and jump the proofed loaf buy 10 to 25 percent almost instantaneously. I personally have used rack ovens, deck ovens, carousel ovens, hearth ovens and each one takes a bit different preparation and give a slightly (sometimes majorly) different result.

                Also preparing sponge the night before sill help to soften the end result due to enzymes that are produced overnight that soften the gluten and also add some enhancements to the flavor.

                Other characteristics can be added by adding milk, I strongly recommend half and half (hats why your identical recipe at home for anything never has that extra oomph in the flavor that resting and Italian is more for slicing. Baguettes are similar but fat free, as is ciabatta. Likewise Cuban is made with no sugar, forcing the yeast to use the flour and ideally lard but usually vegetable oil as food to proof the bread.

                Other characteristics can be added by adding eggs, cheeses or milk, I strongly recommend half and half (an aside...thats why your identical recipe at home for anything never has that extra oomph in the flavor that restaurant recipes do, try it in boxed mac and cheese, gravy or anything with a white-sauce, pricey for daily use, but for special events i will guarantee compliments and begging for the back o the original thought process, lol). Also 4 parts water to 1 part egg brushed on right after they come out of the oven will give that shine you see in the stores too, they are just am dull and dry looking when they come out as yours :).

                I hope that its not too far off topic here and may answer a few questions some of you may have had.

          2. I'd give serious consideration to just making a soft white bread dough, then baking it in the form of a baguette...seems that's what an awful lot of supermarket bakeries do.

            1. If they like the supermarket bread, why go to the trouble of making it by hand? It's not like they're going to appreciate it. Make your wonderful bread for people who understand the trouble you went to--life is too short to waste your time trying to please the unpleaseable. Have a good holiday.

              1 Reply
              1. re: escondido123

                I love my family and try hard to please them as much as I can. But what it really is, is the challenge in replicating something that seems like it should be way easier than a sourdough baguette or ciabatta. Sometimes, my mind gets wrapped up in silly experiments like this, and in the process, I also get to learn more about the "why"s in how baked products turn out the way they do. I actually have fun when I get into such a mode!

                But, yes, it is disheartening when I labor over something delicious only to get rejected :(