Today's "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" recipe is homemade french bread. Now, quit hyperventilating - you can do this! Yes, it has yeast in it, but that doesn't mean that special spells or incantations are required to make a delicious loaf of bread. The picture here is of two loaves made by Wild Man, age 10!
Important info: I make bread using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which means that I don't have to knead by hand. I can only make two loaves at a time, though. If you aspire to become a "real" bread baker and do 5 or 6 loaves at a time, you will need a bigger machine.
I use the Bread Machine yeast that comes in a jar. I keep it in the fridge, but let the amount needed for the recipe come to room temperature before mixing. Because of this, I don't have to mix the yeast with the water first. I can add it in with the dry ingredients (and the water has to be a little warmer than recipes using other kinds of yeast). You may also purchase envelopes of Rapid Rise yeast which is the same thing.
I don't use flour on my hands to keep the dough from sticking since this can make the bread tough. I spray my hands with non-stick spray for whenever I handle the dough.
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
- 4 1/2 tsp. Rapid Rise or Bread Machine yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 - 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - actual amount depends on humidity, temperature, etc.
- 1/4 cup gluten (optional, but I think it helps keep the bread a little softer)
- 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Heat water to 120-130 degrees. Pour into bowl of mixer and add oil and salt.
- Add 1 cup of flour, gluten, and yeast. Mix until combined.
- Add flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until the mixture forms a soft dough that no longer sticks to the edge of the bowl.
- Allow to knead in the machine for about 6 minutes.
- With hands greased, form the dough into a smooth bowl and place in a greased bowl. Turn to coat dough. Cover. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, generally 30-45 minutes.
- When dough is doubled, don't punch down, but gently turn ball of dough inside out several times to redistribute the pockets of carbon dioxide. Divide dough in half. On a greased surface (with greased hands), roll each half to about 15x10 inches then roll into loaf. Pinch seams and ends.
- Place loaves, seam-sides down on large baking sheet liberally sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with clean dishcloth and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
- Brush top of loaves with egg white mixture. Make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes on the tops of the loaves using a serrated (bread) knife.
- Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
- Remove to cooling rack and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, enjoy with butter or olive oil!!
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