Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homemade French Bread

Mmm, french bread. 

Mmm, homemade french bread. 

Lynda at Lynda's Recipe Box made this and blogged about it a few weeks ago and she made it look so easy and her loaves turned out so pretty, that I just had to make some. Lynda has a great blog with some great recipes. Check out her 2010 Top Posts and you'll see what I mean!
These loaves baked up soft and beautiful on the inside and crunchy on the outside. And the aroma! Oh, my... there's nothing like homemade bread! It would be perfect with a bowl of soup or sliced to make garlic bread. 
Lynda kneads her dough by hand and her recipe is written as such. I adapted her recipe to make use of a stand mixer. Even if you've never made yeast bread before, I wish you would give this a try. The dough comes together quickly and rises quickly. If you started right now, you could have french bread for dinner!


Crusty French Bread - adapted for stand mixer from here
2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
2 cups warm water
6 cups flour
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting the pans
1 egg white
1 T cold water

Fit stand mixer with paddle attachment. Pour water into mixer bowl and add yeast. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar, oil and salt. Mix on low for 30 seconds.

Mix in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix on medium until all flour has been incorporated.  Add an additional 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix until all flour has been incorporated. Change to dough hook and knead on medium until dough is smooth and elastic, or about 8 minutes. Dough will be sticky.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.

When dough has doubled, punch it down, cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.

Punch dough down again and knead for 1 minute on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12x9 rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch the seam together. Tuck ends underneath.

Line baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place bread on parchment, cover and rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Make evenly spaced diagonal cuts on top of each loaf. Beat egg white and water together and brush over each loaf of bread with a pastry brush.

Place a pan of hot water on bottom shelf of the oven. Place baking sheet with loaves on shelf above water.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pans and cool on wire racks.