Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Easy French Bread
Yeast breads don't have to be intimidating, this French bread is SO easy to make! This is a great recipe to use if you have never made bread from scratch before. I always like to use INSTANT yeast because it is easier to use than "active dry yeast" - instant yeast is mixed directly into the flour instead of blooming it in liquid first.
You can add your own herbs and spices to this bread to change the flavor. This recipe makes one large loaf or two smallish loaves.
3 1/2 Cups Flour (you can use all-purpose or bread flour) plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons INSTANT yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 1/4 Cups Warm water
Egg Wash (for crisp golden brown crust):
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast. Add the salt and stir well. Mix in the melted butter and the warm water, stirring with a wooden spoon until most of the flour has been mixed in. Put the dough on a floured breadboard and knead for about five minutes, working in more flour as needed until the dough feels smooth and not sticky to the touch.
Put the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place free from drafts and let it sit until the dough has doubled, about one hour. (I put my dough in the oven with the oven off - this is a great draft-free place. On a very cold day I might turn the oven on "warm" for just a couple of minutes and then turn it off again before placing the dough inside).
Punch dough down and divide in half (or leave it in one piece if you want one larger loaf). With your fingers, press each half into a rectangular shape. Starting on one of the long sides, roll the dough tightly into a long log. You can taper the ends or push them in to round them. Repeat with second loaf. Place loaves in the wells of a french bread pan, or lay them on a large greased cookie sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place the loaves in a draft-free area and allow them the rise again until doubled (about one hour).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
When the loaves have risen, make diagonal slits on the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Bake about 20 minutes, or until almost done. While the bread is baking, get your egg wash ready:
Beat together the egg white and water. When the initial 20 minute baking time is up, pull loaves out and brush the mixture over each loaf. Return the bread to the oven for another five or six minutes. The loaves should be golden brown and feel hard on the outside. Press on them gently to make sure they don't feel squishy inside. When you tap on them they should give a hollow "thump" sound.
Posted by Christa Dunn