Sunday, April 12, 2015

Easy French Bread

I don't know why I've put off making French bread for so long - I guess I'm just too much of a whole-grain purist, and you just can't make a good loaf of French bread with whole grains (at least I assume so - I guess I haven't tried it yet!) But I found myself buying frozen garlic bread one too many times in the grocery store and feeling horribly guilty for all of the nasty chemicals I was feeding my children. So I finally gave in and pulled out my trusty old Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and looked up French Bread.

The ingredient list was simple - flour, yeast, salt, and water (with an eggwash for that classic crust - I'm sure you could skip that if you needed to go egg-free). So I pulled out my organic white flour and went to work. I made one recipe by the book, and a second right away skipping some of the more complicated steps. They both turned out about the same, so here's my "cheater" easy version:

Easy French Bread
makes 2 loaves
5 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
Mix all together (in a mixer or by hand) and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise for about an hour (I use my seedling grow mat, and it rises like a dream!) After dough has risen, roll out into a 15x10 inch rectangle and roll up, starting from a long side:
Place seam-side down on a baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise for another 45 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife, slice each loaf 4 or 5 times diagonally across the top. For an extra-crispy crust, make an egg wash (use a fork to beat one egg (I use a whole egg; many recipes call for just the white, but I don't bother separating it - this is my "cheater" recipe, remember) and brush across the top of each loaf. I like to use a silicone barbecue brush):
Bake in a preheated 365 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when you tap the top with your finger. Immediately move to a wire rack to cool.
To make garlic bread, slice lengthwise and brush with garlic butter (crush garlic and mix with melted butter - I use about two cloves per 1/2 stick of butter). Bake about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, or until edges begin to brown.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know that rolling the dough was how you get that nice baguette shape. Thanks!