Monday, January 30, 2012

French Bread (V)

This recipe is easy, simple and tastes just like store bought:
Including cooking time= 4 1/2 hours, so make sure to plan ahead.

Makes 2 loaves
2  1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar (optional but it feeds the yeast and helps it grow faster)
-Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl and let stand 5-10 mins until the yeast flowers or begins to froth.

Add to the bowl:
3 1/2 cups bread flour, or all -purpose
1 cup water
1  1/2 tsp salt

-Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed 5 mins until you have sticky dough.
-Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let rise covered at room temp about 2 hours.

-Punch down the dough and divide into two, if sticky sprinkle some flour to make it easier.
-Roll each half into a long rope about 10-12 inches in length
-Lightly sprinkle a large wooden cutting board or baking sheet w/o edges with oil and corn meal to prevent the bread from sticking.
-Place the two ropes side by side about 5 inches apart on the baking sheet/board.
-Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temp for 1  1/2 hrs.

-For decorative purposes you can sprinkle a little flour on top and cut 4-5 diagonal lines across the tops of the loaves with a very sharp knife.
-About 30 mins before loaves have fully risen, preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place baking stone or another baking sheet w/o edges on a rack in the middle of oven. Also place a pan for water underneath on bottom rack or bottom of stove, big enough for a couple cups of water this helps get a hard crust. Do not add water until the bread goes in.

-Slide the bread onto the baking stone/sheet.
-Slowly add 2 cups of water into pan underneath.

Bake for a total of 25 mins or until the loaves are golden brown, cool on rack before cutting.
*I have only used the baking stone and using a baking sheet might alter the crust a little, but you can use it if you don't have a stone.

*For Garlic Bread- cut in 1-2 inch slices, spread butter or alt. sprinkle some garlic powder on top and put on a baking sheet. Broil on low maybe 5 mins or so, keep an eye on it.

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