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So it’s been a rainy, muggy, yucky sort of day here in the great city of Indianapolis and that means baking for me! Well, besides hubby has a 13 hour shift tonight so I made dinner a little earlier than normal. Nothing says ” I love you and thank your for taking good care of our family” like a loaf of crusty, hot French bread. *sidenote: Did you see that the Powerball is up to a quarter of a billion?? That is just insane!  As we ate lunch dinner this afternoon, my hubby and kids discussed what we would do with that kind of money. I heard things like quit my job (scary, but I ‘m listening), put off college for a few years (of course that came from my 18 yr old who leaves for school this Saturday!) and last but not least, move to the beach in California (ok, now I’m REALLY listening) So what would you do with that kind of money? 

french bread 4

Ok, back to the French Bread. I swear it took only 10 minutes to prepare and 2 hours to rise and bake. So here is the recipe. let me know how yours turns out!

3 3/4 c bread flour + 1/4 for dusting table

2 teaspoon active quick rising yeast

2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

Directions:

Place flour in your mixing bowl. Spoon the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other side of the bowl (something about yeast touching salt makes it ineffective?? Anyway,pour in the warm water and with a paddle attachment (not the dough hook, you’ll use that in a minute) turn on the mixer to low speed and mix until the dough starts to come together and form a ball, but is still kind of doughy on the bottom of the bowl. Mix for 2 minutes and let the dough rest for 2 minutes. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and mix on medium speed until the dough is in a ball. If the dough is too sticky add a little flour and mix until incorporated. If the dough is too dry, add teaspoon of water at a time. Let the dough rest for another 5 minutes. Turn the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes. Form the dough to a round ball and place in a well greased large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set bowl in an area that is warm and free from drafts. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours and till it doubles in size.

Meanwhile, while the dough is rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone or an inverted cookie sheet in the middle of the oven. After dough is completely doubled in size, place dough on a lightly floured baking surface and punch down to release some of the air. (at this point, the dough should spring back fairly quickly) and then form back into a ball. Cut dough in half and place one half back into the greased bowl.

Stretch dough to the size of a rectangle. Fold over the end of the dough so that both meet in the middle. Now karate chop down the length of the bread dough as to seal the two folds. Make sure to fold over the two ends as well. In essence, make sure that every nook and cranny is sealed because it’s the steam that builds up in the folds which in turn makes the crust nice and well…crusty!

Almost ready… Allow the dough to rise on the baking surface for another 30 minutes. NOW its time to bake!  Cut diagonal slashed across tops of the bread. Carefully place bread loaves on the hot baking stone. Before closing the oven door. Pour 1 cup of water on the bottom of your oven floor (trust me on this one) and quickly shut the oven door. The steam that builds up in the oven allows the bread to bake evenly and therefore yielding a crispier crust. Bake for approximately 20-24 minutes. Enjoy with a dab of sweet creamy butter or just au naturel.

 

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