Monday, November 14, 2011

French Bread Recipe- And a Pretty Flower.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

I promised on Friday that I would share a recipe for French Bread that I've just fallen in love with lately, and here I am, sharing it before I forget that I promised you. :)
(Because my brain is great at that. Promptly forgetting things. Maybe I have short term memory loss, like Dory from "Finding Nemo"? I hope not!!)

source

What was I talking about??? Oh, Yeah. ; )

Anyway; on to the bread.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com a while ago while searching for a crusty bread recipe. I really wanted something like you get at a nice bakery or restaurant with the crusty outside, and soft, chewy inside.
Well, my friends, this recipe delivered! I make a triple batch of it about once a week now, and we just gobble it all right up. It isn't hard to make either, even with small kids about because most of the preparation time is hands-off. You just let it sit there!




This is what you do:
(the entire recipe is posted at the bottom, if you want to print it out easily.)


Get out your supplies: flour ( I use half whole wheat and half white), sugar, salt, yeast, oil and some warm (110-115F) water.

Put 2 1/4 tsp of yeast into 1 cup of water, along with 2 Tbsp of sugar.
Let it sit until it gets all bubbly, about 3-5 min. The kids love to watch when the bubbles rise to the top, it kind of looks like fireworks are going off!




Mix together 2 cups of  your flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.
Pour  2 Tbsp oil and water/yeast mixture into the flour once the yeast is done "exploding".





Mix until your flour is incorporated into the dough, then add 1-1 1/2 cups more flour.





Flour your kneading surface, and let your kiddos see that flour on its own really isn't all that tasty. It does make pretty designs though when you draw in it! :)





Here's the dough before kneading it

I usually add about another cup of flour into the bowl and mix in in as much as I can, then pour the dough onto a floured surface and then knead the rest of the flour in until the dough feels smooth and elastic-y; about 2-5 minutes.


All done kneading! See how smooth it is??

Once your dough is kneaded, form it into a ball, flour the bottom of the bowl you just used to mix it in and place the dough back into your bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour.
I like to have my dishwasher going during this time, and place the bowl of dough on the counter above my dishwasher where it's nice and warm, because it rises really well that way.
Plus, then I get all of those dirty dishes out of the way and my tiny kitchen looks so much less cluttered when it's clean! :)



Ellie LOVES to eat bread dough! She waits like a vulture until I"m not looking,
then snatches little pinches of it like this. 


When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down.


Before....

After!!

Good thing I didn't let it rise anymore, it would've grown out of the bowl!

This is another good opportunity to let your kids help cook.
I did it myself this time, but they love punching down the dough! 


Then, cover the dough back up and let it rise another 25 min. or so.
Punch it down again, then form into whatever shape loaves you'd like.
I usually do one or two "french bread looking" loaves- you know, the long, kinda skinny ones? I just pull the dough out and squish it into a loaf shape.
This time, I'm making a bunch of hoagie rolls as well, for sandwiches. Those are basically a mini version of the regular loaves. From this triple batch, I got 16 hoagies and 1 regular shaped loaf of french bread.







Sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal (I forgot this step, oops!)

Place your bread on the baking sheet, and let sit for 5 min. or so to raise just a bit more, then pop it into a 375F oven for 20-25 min. If you're making hoagie rolls, just check to make sure they don't burn! I usually put them in for 18-20 min.
The recipe has an egg wash you can brush the bread with just before baking, to give it that nice, shiny finish and some extra crunch, but I never use up the rest of my egg when I make an egg wash, so I just skip that step to save on food waste. The bread tastes just as marvelous without the egg wash. :)
 Once your bread is nice and golden brown and hollow when you tap it, take it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack so it doesn't get soggy. Try to resist eating it right away.
(You may not be able to!!)



This bread freezes really well too- when I make a triple batch, I keep one loaf out and freeze the rest in a ziplock bag. It keeps well for a few months; although ours only usually lasts a few weeks or so!
Now, go make some bread!


Here's the whole recipe:
Crusty French Bread

1 (.25ounce) package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
I cup warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water


Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; return to bowl. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a loaf 16 in. long x 2-1/2 in. wide with tapered ends. Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaf on baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.
  4. Beat egg white and cold water; brush over dough. With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes 2 in. apart across top of loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.




Oh, and just in case you're wondering where the "pretty flower" part of the title comes in...
It's here.


I went outside to take out the garbage this morning, and found this beauty blooming along our fence.
It's a Clematis.
I got a few plants on clearance from Lowe's a couple months ago for a dollar each and planted them, but wasn't expecting them to bloom til next year.
Surprise!!
It's so gorgeous!! I love the deep purple.
I can't wait til next spring or summer, when all four of the plants are in bloom!




2 comments:

familyworklife said...

Does your bread stay crusty when you freeze it? I love my crusty rolls & rustic breads, but after the first day they lose their delicious crunch and I haven't been able to figure out if there's a way to preserve it. Tips?

Becca Swan said...

It doesn't. It keeps a nice consistency and doesn't get crumbly or anything, but it is soft after it thaws out. I'm not sure how to keep the crunch. I wish I knew, it's so yummy that way!