Sunday, August 29, 2010

French Bread

Is there anything better than the smell of fresh-from-the-oven bread? Or that moment when you get that first bite of warm bread in your mouth? Mmmmm...... Tonight I'd like to share with you my french bread! It is SOOOOOO easy - maybe even fool proof! And equally delicious.

Here are our ingredients:

Flour, oil, salt, sugar & yeast. Pretty simple stuff, huh!?

For the flour, any will do - I just happen to have the "Better For Bread" kind today. And for the yeast, use active dry yeast - not the quick rising stuff.

Ready!!?? First step - bloom the yeast. To do that put 1/2 a cup of very warm water in a cup - not scalding - just really, really warm. Add in 2 TBS of yeast & a pinch of sugar. Yeast feeds off of sugar so that will just help wake it up. Gently stir it with a fork & then set it aside to do its magic.

After about 5-7 minutes it should look like this - tan foam:

While this is going grab a large mixing bowl - or a Kitchen Aid if you have one! I *LOVE* my Kitchen Aid mixer. Mix together 2 cups of warm water, 3 Tbsp of sugar, 1 Tbsp salt and 1/2 cup of oil - like canola or vegetable. Give it a good mix then add your bloomed yeast.

Now start adding in the flour - first add 3 cups, all at once.

Once those 3 cups are blended in add 3 more cups of flour, but do these one at a time.

Then check your dough - is it too sticky? It should NOT do this:

If it does you should add a little more flour. Bread is pretty finicky. The temperature, humidity & altitude can all affect the way bread come out. Sometime I have to add more flour, sometimes I don't. Today I added in another 1/4 cup. You know it's right when it pulls away from the side of the bowl & keeps itself in a ball. Like this:

Now you need to let it take a little nap so it can rise! Grab a fork & stab it into the middle of the dough ball, then cover it with a towel & set it in a warm place. Why a fork? I have no idea. It's the way this recipe was taught to me & it comes out perfectly every time - and I'm afraid to question perfection!

Let it sit for 10 minutes then use the fork to stab it down & stir it well. Don't be afraid to use your knuckles a bit, too. Do this a total of 5 times - for 50 minutes. After the 5th time do NOT punch it down. Instead, dump it out onto a floured surface & split it into 2 dough balls.

Work with one at a time. Roll it out into a rectangle (don't forget to flour your rolling pin!) at least 8x12. If you go a little bigger don't worry about it.

Now roll it up, dusting the excess flour off as you go.

Set each rolled loaf, seam side down, on a parchment line baking sheet (or just spritz one with PAM), tuck the ends under and slash 3 slits across the tops to give them room to grow.

(Jocelyn really wanted her hand in this picture!)

Now let it sit (again, in a warm spot) for 25 minutes.

I usually put it in my microwave to rise. It's an over-the-stove one & if I turn the stovet op light on (you know, the one that's actually attached to the bottom of the microwave) it gives off just enough heat to keep the rising bread cozy inside the m'wave.

On a nice day, though, your counter tops should be warm enough to not have to bother with the finicky nonsense!

After rising:

Now pop it into an oven - at 350 - for 22-24 minutes. To check if it's done, give the top & bottom both a thump. If they sound the same call it good!

Cool for a little while on the pan and then move to a rack to cool completely before wrapping it for storage. You don't want to wrap it with any heat still on it because it will sweat & make itself soggy!

Mmmmm...... GOOD STUFF!!

This is great sliced thick with butter &/or jam, or sliced thin & used for sandwiches. Enjoy!


  1. Simply amazing. Was wondering if you used a french loaf rack to get them amazingly shaped. Now I see that you didn't. I have a gluten free recipe that I've been dying to make but didn't have the loaf shaper thingy. Looks very very yummy. Strong work as always! Becky

  2. I made French Bread for the first time this past weekend.....what a treat! I am soooo going to make it again - it's addictive I tell ya! Your recipe looks great. :-)

  3. I think I can smell it through your blog! My mouth is watering just thinking about it and looking at the pictures!! Leigh Anne @Your Homebased Mom

  4. Thanks to your recipe I was actually able to make bread that looked like bread...instead of a little short brick!

  5. It turned out extremely Fluffy,Tasted decent, but not a little hard like french bread... Should it have been cooked longer?