Francine is, I am told, ubiquitous in France. Lucky France! If this is the case across the channel, then why does the UK settle for so much less? Bread is a staple food after all. I have the answer but my legal team said keep quiet 😉

This is my second Francine bread mix review, the other can found from the tag section below. Two rather different loaves, I think you’ll agree. Method is the same as is the baking temperature and length of bake. Standardized instructions are usually a good thing (making products foolproof, hopefully); the two differences with this mix are to add a bowl of water to the oven for a steamy bake (more on that later) and to slash a cross on top of the loaf to aid oven spring. I follow the directions on pack and make a mighty boule.

The dough is slightly sticky yet easy to work for the obligatory five minutes. Since reviewing bread mixes for this blog the one thing missing from all of the directions is autolyse: a period of rest between mixing ingredients and the initial kneading. Autolyse allows flour to absorb as much of the added water/oil as possible without building gluten. This mix benefits from the 60 minutes of rest I give it: smoother dough and easier to work. Pro Tip.

After getting the dough together and a thorough, gentle kneading it gets another rest (30 minutes) before the shaping: a boule.

I’m using my smallest non stick roaster here because heat will pass through it better than my usual flat tray/baking parchment arrangement. 

  • I cannot use a steam bath in my oven because of leaking door seals and the fact that a spritz or two of water before and during baking gives equally crusty finish.

After another hour it is time to slash the dough and get it baked…

If you fancy Francine (admit it, you do) and you live in the UK, then the range can be found at branches of Waitrose. I can’t promise ‘anonymous and fleeting satisfaction’ but if you want a LTR then take a look.

  • Earthy and unpretentious loaf with character
  • Easy to bake
  • Great to eat with a glass of wine and some soft cheese

    Score 4.5/5


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