Wednesday, March 23, 2011

French Bread

I really wanted some french bread yesterday, but after a long day at work didn't feel like heading to the store. I decided to try out making some myself. I've made white bread and sourdough bread before, but had not attempted french bread (I also made gluten free bread once, but that turned out horrible... as in worst bread ever). Most recipes I found required cornmeal, an ingredient I did not have on hand, and as I said, I did not want to go to the store. I found one recipe that I had everything for. It was tasty, but turned out more dense than I would have liked, so I will experiment with it more in the future. Any tips are welcome!
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups warm water 110º F
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. 
Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead in your mixer with the dough hook for 8 minutes on low-medium sped. 
Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. 
Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes to 1 hour).

Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. 
Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf.
Note: Be careful not to slice too deep. I did. That's why one loaf is shorter than the other. I salvaged the other part and made a mini loaf though. 
Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. 
Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375º  F oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done.
Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

Add-Ins: To make flavored bread, before rolling up the dough, add in the ingredients. Then roll, sprinkle a little more on top, then continue on with the recipe.
  • Butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese for garlic bread
  • Butter, cinnamon and sugar for cinnamon roll bread
  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • Cheddar or mozzarella cheese
I tried flavoring in one loaf. I melted some butter, added some garlic and basil, and brushed the mixture on the dough before rolling it up.

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