Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homemade French Bread

I have a newfound kitchen crush.
Bread hooks for my HAND mixer! They were so much fun!! And since the bread turned out well, I shall probably use them more often than my stand-up mixer (which I haven't quite figured out the bread hooks on yet)!

Since we were having basic spaghetti for dinner last night, I decided to have the recipe for the day be a side of fresh baked French bread to go with it. I found an easy recipe online, and it turned out great!

5-6 cups of all-purpose (or bread) flour
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

1. ((I started out not following the recipe. Though the ingredients are the same, I used my knowledge of letting yeast get started before adding extra stuff to start it off...)) In a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast and let sit to activate while you prepare the next set of ingredients.

2. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt to the yeast/water and beat until well blended using your mixer with dough hooks. Then stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (I got about 4 1/2 cups total mixed in before the next step)
3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total.

4. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes to an hour. I left mine for 45 minutes)

5. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Roll each half into a large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. (I didn't moisten the edge like the recipe calls for, I just smushed the edge together until it stuck). Taper the ends.
This one was a garlic/Parmesan loaf. This is the step to add things in (see the end of the recipe)
7. Grease a large baking sheet. Place loaves, seam side down, on the sheet. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf.
8. Beat the tablespoon of water with the egg white and brush on the top of each loaf. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until nearly doubled (about 35 to 40 minutes).
9. Bake in a preheated oven at 375* for 20 minutes. Brush again with the egg white mixture and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack (mine didn't make it to this step, since we started dinner just after they came out of the oven!)

Tip: For an even crispier crust, spray the loaves with water right before baking, and then every 5 minutes for the first 10 minutes of baking.

the top loaf is the garlic, the bottom is plain bread

Add-Ins: To make flavored bread (like I did), add in the ingredients before rolling the dough up. Then roll, sprinkle a little more on top and finish the recipe.

  • Butter, garlic and parmesan cheese for garlic bread (see above)
  • Butter, cinnamon and sugar
  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • Cheddar or mozzarella cheese

It was yummy! and my house smelled SOOO good!! All the possible variations on things you could put inside make this a very versatile bread that would be great at any time of day!

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