Thursday, January 19, 2012

French bread ::re-post::

We are trying to move away from white flour in our house, but sometimes it's nice to have a classic white bread. Such is the case with this french bread, which is great with pasta and soup, and even though it's made with white flour, at least it's still healthier than what you would buy in the grocery store in that it doesn't have any extra unpronounceable ingredients. It's simple: Flour, salt, sugar, water, yeast, and oil. It takes some time to make, but is super easy. You just have to give adequate time -roughly 2 1/2 hours- from start to finish time to allow for kneading, resting, and rising time, but don't let the time needed stop you because there is truly very little work actually involved. I used to be pretty intimidated by bread making and I still wouldn't call it my favorite pass time, but this is one of those recipes that truly is so easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer than will do 90% of the work for you. This recipe makes two large loaves, which is plenty for a dinner party or good to freeze one loaf for down the road.

Grandma's French Bread
from The Sisters' Cafe

I N G R E D I E N T S :
2 ¼ c. warm water
2 T. sugar
1 Tbsp yeast (I use rapid rise or bread machine yeast because you don't really need to let it proof)
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
5 ½ -6 cups flour-stirred before measured

D I R E C T I O N S :
First dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. 
Let this proof—or sit for a few minutes until it bubbles. 
Add salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and beat well with dough hook attachment on mixer.
 Add in 2 1/2 -3 more cups of flour. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too sticky, but if it is, I've found that adding a little bit of flour at a time until it does clean off the sides of the bowl works perfectly and the bread is still moist.
Knead for a few minutes (I give it about 3 minutes). 
Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes. Then, knead with the stand mixer for 10 seconds,  and then allow dough to rest another 10 minutes. 
Repeat this  for a total of 5 times (I write down the time each time I let it spin for 10 seconds to keep track of how many times it has been).
Next, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead it 2 or 3 times to coat with flour. 
Divide into 2 equal parts. 
Roll each part into a 9x13 rectangle. Roll dough up, starting from long edge of loaf to seal. 
Arrange seam side down on large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal, allowing room for both loaves. 
Repeat with second part of dough. 
With a sharp knife, cut 3 gashes at an angle on the top of each. 
Cover lightly; allow to rise 30 minutes. 
Brush entire surface with egg wash (one egg beaten slightly with 1 Tbsp of water). 
If desired, sprinkle with sesame seads. 
Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Cool on racks.
NOTE: For a crustier loaf, a pan of hot water may be set on bottom of oven while bread is baking  (I was happier with the results when I did not do this).

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