Wednesday, September 25, 2013

French Bread

I went to make this bread the other day and realized the recipe was tucked into another soup post, and that was just not okay!  This needed its own post.  This recipe comes from my mother-in-law and I've made it many many times now.  Sometimes I sub half of the all-purpose flour out for whole wheat, sometimes I just do all white.  It's great paired with soup, pasta, salad, you name it.  It takes awhile for all the rising, but the actual work is very easy and fast.  And homemade french bread is so much more delicious and impressive than store-bought!  Give it a try!

French Bread

2 1/4 c. hot water
1 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5-6 c. flour

In a small bowl or cup, place 1/4 c. hot water and yeast.  Sprinkle 1 T. sugar over the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a large stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if you want to do this by hand), mix together the salt and the remaining 2 c. of water and 1 T. sugar.  Add 3 cups of flour and mix well.  Add in the bubbled yeast mixture and then, with the mixer on low (or kneading by hand), gradually add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms together.  Knead for 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a large greased (I use olive oil) bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hrs.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces and form into 2 long loaves on a greased baking sheet.  Let rise a second time until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and place a baking pan (i.e. 8x8 or 9x13) holding about an inch of water on the bottom rack.

Using a serrated knife, gently make 3 diagonal slashes in each loaf.  Place the baking sheet on the middle rack and back at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on cooling rack.  Brush with butter or olive oil, if desired.
Source: Debbie Nowland


Liz Johnson said...

Question - does this bread get really hard and crusty on the top? I've been really trying to find a hard/crusty french bread recipe!

Sarah said...

Liz - it gets pretty hard and crusty. The pan of water in the oven helps a hard crust to form. If you don't eat it all fresh and store it in a bag though, it softens up. It's definitely not soft fresh, but it's not super crusty like artisan bread or something. This sounds very vague, but hopefully it helps!