Thursday, November 17, 2011

French Bread

I love french bread because it is SO simple, and there is just something so delicious about a crusty bread with the soft insides. Mmmm. You don't have to collect any special ingredients, everything needed is most likely already in your cupboard.

To start place in a large bowl: 2 cups warm water, 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast, and one tablespoon of sugar (I was actually out of sugar so I didn't use any kind of sweetener). Let stand at room temp for about 10 minutes.
The recipe actually calls for 3 cups of bread flour and 3 cups of unbleached all purpose, I didn't have any bread flour so I used all unbleached. You add two cups to the yeast and stir briskly for 3 minutes. Then add the remaining flour 1/2 a cup at a time (you may need more, or less, then 6 cups depending on the brand, batch, etc)
Knead for 10-12 minutes (Unless you have used bread flour, then it only takes about 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let raise in a cool room until tripled in bulk. About 1 1/2-2 hours. If you have the time punch it down and let raise again for another hour.
Divide into three equal portions and shape each one into a rectangle (which would make a baguette) or if you want a french bread loaf roll up the rectangle into a sausage shape.
Like so.
Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes. Before baking slash little diagonal lines on the top of each loaf, no more then 1/4 an inch deep and let raise about 30 minutes. I baked mine on a greased airbake cookie sheet.
Eat immediately or transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. (The loaves I made were a lot smaller then a french bread loaf you would find in the store, I would say they were in between a baguette and a french bread)