Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fabulous French Bread

I know that I've told several people in the last month or so that I'd get this recipe to them, but I can't remember who they are. So I thought I'd share it with the world via my little blog. Thanks to my friend Luanne for sharing this recipe with me.

I love this recipe, and I have yet to see it disappoint. I live at high altitude, but never have to make any adjustments for it. If you are at a low altitude, you may need to slightly adjust your flour/liquid amounts.

Plan 2 hours start to finish for this bread.

2 1/2 c. very warm water
2 T. sugar
1 T. salt
2 T. cooking oil (I use olive)
6 c. flour
2 pkg active dry yeast or 2 T.

Pour warm water in large mixing bowl, then stir in sugar, salt, oil, half the flour, and yeast. Beat vigorously 2-3 minutes.

Stir in remaining flour until all dry ingred. are completely mixed in, leaving spoon/dough hook in heavy batter. (Now, you can do this by hand, but I cheat and do it with my mixer.) Allow dough to rest 10 minutes then stir down, allow dough to rest another 10 minutes and stir down again. Repeat this process until dough has been stirred down 5 times.

Turn dough onto floured board, knead only enough to coat with flour so it can be handled. Divide into 2 equal parts. Roll each part of dough into rectangle about 9x12 and roll up like a jelly roll, rolling from long side, Pinch edge of loaf to seal the dough. Arrange lengthwise on large cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal, allowing room for both loaves.

With sharp knife (I use a serrated) cut three gashes at an angle on top, then brush entire surface with slightly beaten whole egg. If desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Cover lightly and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes (I don't cover mine, but I keep it in a warm area.) Bake immediately at 400* for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet immediately and cool on racks.

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