Thursday, August 25, 2011

Simple French Bread

I love making bread. It fills the house with the best smell. I can’t wait until fall; I think that is when warm, fresh bread is the most comforting. When the air is nippy and the oven keeps the house warm. Mmmm.

Baking bread in 100° weather is worth it, but my goodness you better have a jug of ice water nearby.

This is a favorite bread recipe of mine. My first bread recipe actually. My Nana used to make it all the time when I was just learning to cook. It holds good memories. Like the time our dog Murphy ate a ball of dough rising out on the porch and just lay out (a black lab mind you!) expanding in the afternoon sun. (By the way, that dog ate everything and was perfectly fine the next day)

So back to the bread. It is so incredibly simple, it doesn’t even require kneading! It requires minimal hands-on time and only bakes for around 20 minutes in the oven. Plus it makes two loaves and freezes incredibly well.

Need I persuade you more?
…okay then…
It’s delicious and crusty too. 

Oh yeah, and it fills the house with that fresh bread smell that you just can’t get enough of.

Simple French Bread
from Taste of Home Annual Recipes (2000)

makes 2 loaves

1 package active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. shortening, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water. Add sugar, salt, shortening and remaining water and whisk until combined. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Let rest for ten minutes.

Roll each portion of dough into a 10 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Roll up from a long side and pinch to seal. Place loaves seam side down on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Before baking, take a sharp knife and make five diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

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