If you have ever been to Brazil, then there is a good chance that you have tried Pão Francês. When I was in Manaus, my first time in Brazil, I did not know any Portuguese at all. I was there for six weeks doing mission work and trying to learn the language. It was a group that I was working with for a summer program. There were about 35 other students in the group, and all were Brazilian and did not speak English.
It was a six week program and I learned Portuguese pretty quickly while I was there. It's improved since I married my husband, a handsome Brazilian. We've improved each others languages.
Nonetheless, we both love Brazilian food. The past few years I have been improving my Brazilian cooking, and am still working on it, but he loves it when I make this Pão Francês.
8 cups (1 kg) all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup ice water
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp dry active yeast
1 tsp granulated white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
Proof the yeast in the 1 1/2 cup warm water, and add the sugar. After about five minutes add the vegetable oil. Slowly Sift together the flour, the sugar and the salt. Place the sifted flour in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the mixture to the flour in the bowl, mixing in each addition before adding more, using a wooden spoon. Then begin to add the ice water, again in small amounts, incorporating each addition before adding more, using your hands. When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, stop adding water.
Turn the dough out onto a floured working surface. Using floured hands, knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively, use a Kitchen-aid or similar home mixer equipped with a dough hook. Stop kneading when the dough is smooth, non-sticky, and springs back when poked with a fingertip. Form the dough into a large ball.
Put the dough in a clean large bowl, cover with a clean towel, and leave in a warm, undraughty place for 30 minutes, or until doubles in size.
Return the dough to the floured work surface. Divide into 20 equal-size portions. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten it. Roll the flattened ball into an elongated, spiral shape. When finished, put the rolls on one or two non-stick baking sheets, well-separated, then cover with clean towels and let rise until they have doubled in size (normally about one hour).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F (220C). As soon as the rolls have doubled in size, using a razor blade or very sharp knife, cut into each roll in the long direction. Put them in the hot oven.
Fill a clean spray bottle with water. As soon as the rolls begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes, quickly open the oven door, mist the rolls lightly with water, and close the door. Continue to bake the bread until the rolls are nicely browned and, if tapped, sound hollow. About another 3-5 minutes.
Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool on wire racks. Serve warm and enjoy!
My son really enjoys this Brazilian bread. It's in his blood. He even took my bread from me.