Baking your own French bread is easier than you think. All it takes is a simple recipe, a counter-top mixer (or a stout wooden spoon powered by determination), and the time to put it all together.
So, the next time you’re stuck indoors all day, give this wonderful recipe a try. Sure, it’s easier to purchase a loaf from the corner store but nothing equals freshly baked bread, especially if it comes from your own hands. Imagine the positive comments from your guests when you present this delicious crusty bread — from your kitchen!
With today’s powerful mixers, the difficult mixing and kneading is done while you watch, lazily scraping down the sides of the bowl, as the machine efficiently goes about its business. In the olden times, all the home baker needed was a large bowl, a stout spoon and a little muscle power. As you can see, perfectly shaped loaves are an option. But no matter the shape, the bread is delicious.
This basic recipe is compliments of Betty Crocker
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour or Better for Bread™ bread flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 cup very warm water (120ºF to 130ºF)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Cornmeal, baker’s parchment or silicone sheet to prevent sticking while baking.
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Dried onion flakes, Poppy seed or sesame seed (optional).
- 1 In large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft).
- 2 On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic (Note: a mixer with dough hook(s) can do the kneading for you). Grease large bowl with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. (Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture.) Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
- 3 Grease large cookie sheet with shortening or spray with cooking spray; sprinkle with cornmeal or simply use baker’s paper or silicone sheet instead of spray and cornmeal. Gently push fist into dough to deflate; divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into 15 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
- 4 Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across tops of loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- 5 Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with dried onion flakes, poppy or sesame seeds. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.
- NOTE: This lovely loaf of fresh bread goes especially well with traditional French peasant dishes like cassoulet.
- Click here for Cassoulet Recipe