I post recipes here the way that I make them, so of course you should feel free to adapt these to what your family likes!
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French Bread

I never liked french bread until I was introduced to this recipe (thank you Gina!). Even the fresh french bread at the store seemed dry and the crusts were so hard...this is a nice soft french bread. If you prefer that crustier bread, this will harden a bit overnight, or if you cook it for a few extra minutes.
I prefer to mix this bread by hand with a big wooden spoon--an electric mixer can lead to overmixing, and that will ruin the light texture of french bread.

*Note, you can do part wheat flour in this recipe if you like--I've had it work fine up to about half wheat--but hey, this is french bread...I like it white! ☺

Makes 2 large loaves
Preparation/cooking time = about 2 hours (it's easy, but there's a lot of rising time, and this really can't be rushed)

In a smallish bowl or measuring cup mix
5 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)
1/2 cup hot water
Set aside

In a large bowl mix
2 cup hot water
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
3 Tbs sugar (I usually put part of it in with the yeast to help it get off to a good start)
1 Tbs salt

Add to water mixture
3 cups flour
Blend well
Add yeast mixture (which should now be nice and bubbly)
Blend well
3 more cups flour
After mixing, dough will be pretty sticky. Cover bowl with a clean towel and set in a warm place for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, stir it down. Repeat the rising/stirring down for a total of 5 times. (If your kitchen is on the cooler side, try doing 15 minute risings, or if you have an oven-safe bowl you can set it in a slightly warm oven for the risings.) It's these multiple risings that make the big bubbles in the bread. ☺

Preheat the oven to 400*
Place the dough onto a floured counter and knead just a little (about 10 times) then divide into two parts and roll into long skinny loaves. If you have a french bread pan you can use that, otherwise sprinkle cornmeal on a cookie sheet and place the loaves side by side (leave a little space--they will rise as they cook). Do not rise them again before cooking, just put them into the oven. Bake at 400* for about 30 minutes.

Yummy variations
  • Sprinkle grated cheese into the bread dough while kneading for a cheesy bread.
  • Make ahead of time, then slice loaves in half lengthwise and spread butter and garlic inside and warm in the oven until flavors melt together.
  • Make ahead of time, slice loaves lengthwise, then put cheese in the middle and melt in oven.


NessaAnn said...

Yummy! I'll have to give it a try! If you're in a rush, you could also try my mom's recipe, posted here:http://nessaandmichael.blogspot.com/2009/05/zoans-french-bread.html

Takes only an hour and a quarter total and it is deeeelicious!

Susana said...

I have to tell you that I have been searching for an awesome french bread recipe for a while. I have tried several different recipes and have found yours to be the best!!!!

I baked four loaves last night and I am sooo pleased. Thanks so much. My family loved the loaves.



btw, I put a pan with shallow water at the bottom of the oven, coated the loaves with water before baking and baked for 40 min. not 30. (Your oven may be hotter than mine 'cause at 30 min. mine were not golden.)

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