Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fabulous French Bread

I love Fall weather. The sun is shining, leaves are turning red and yellow and the air is crisp. I also love all the warm comforting foods that fall and winter bring.  When it is chilly outside nothing is better than a steaming bowl of soup and homemade bread. Last year my sister gave me this recipe for French Bread. She said it was super easy to make but I was a little weary... french bread? Really? Sounds difficult! I tried it and fell in love with it instantly. It was so easy to make and now I make it all the time, especially when I am making home made soup. Don't be frightened my friends... French Bread is your Friend!

Here is what you will need:

 Pretty simple ingredients: Flour, Rapid rising yeast (I keep mine in the fridge- it lasts longer that way), oil, salt, sugar and...warm H2O
 Mix half of the flour (3 cups) and the rest of ingredients.
 Whisk together vigorously for 2-3 minutes. This makes sure all the ingredients are well mixed and it also gives you a great tricep workout.
 The consistency will be somewhat like pancake batter
 Then add the remaining flour and mix well. At this point you will want to switch from using a whisk to a wooden spoon if you have one or a spatula will do. Then, every ten minutes you will stir down the dough. You will do this 5 times... so for 50 minutes.
 After you have stirred the dough down 5 times you will then cut it in half and roll it out into 2 loaves.
 Roll it out into a rectangle shape, approximately 9x12. But it doesn't have to be perfect people, no measuring sticks needed.
 Then, start rolling it like a jellyroll, lengthwise.

 Pinch the edges to seal and tuck under the ends like so:
 Repeat with the other half the the dough. Then, place dough on a greased cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 30 minutes. If you want your bread a little crispier you can also sprinkle cornmeal on the greased cookie sheet. I didn't have any cornmeal today! After it has risen for 30 minutes take a sharp knife and cut several gashes.

 It will look something like this:
 Lightly beat an egg and brush it onto the bread generously.
 The egg wash will help your bread become a nice golden brown.
 Then, bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Your house will start to fill with the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread. Once it is done you will have some gorgeous French Bread.
 See it wasn't that hard now was it?
 It does take a little time but the result is SO worth it.

My house smells so good right now I just might have to go cut myself a piece of bread even though it isn't dinner time yet! Here is the recipe! ENJOY!


Fabulous French Bread

2 1/2 cups very warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Cooking oil
6 cups flour
2 Tbsp. yeast-instant yeast

 Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in sugar, salt, oil, half the flour and yeast.  Beat vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining flour until all ingredients are well mixed, leaving wooded spoon right in the heavy batter. 

Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes then stir down.  Rest dough for another 10 minutes then stir down again.  Repeat this process until dough has been stirred down 5 times.   

Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 2 pieces.  Roll each portion into a 9x12 rectangle.  Roll up like a jellyroll starting on a long side.  Pinch edge to seal.  Arrange both loaves lengthwise on a large cookie sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. 

 With a sharp knife, cut 3 diagonal gashes on the top of each loaf, then brush entire surface with a lightly beaten whole egg.  If desired sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.  Bake immediately at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until browned.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.  Makes 2 loaves.

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