Monday, November 26, 2012

French Bread

The other night we needed a break from turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes. I had actually planned on making gravy to eat with the leftovers and serving that over biscuits. But we had some company, time got away from me, and before long it was 5:30.  And I was out of mashed potatoes. 

I needed a change of plans.

So I decided that Korean beef sounded really good.

It always sounds good to me.

That is because there are NEVER leftovers.  NEVER.  So the night I make it is my one shot to eat it.  And with a growing teenager in my house, I truly do only get one shot.  I blink, and it is gone.  Literally.

Once I had that settled, I started thinking about bread.  I really wanted a good bread to eat with it. But we were almost out of our Thanksgiving (Rhodes) rolls. And I didn't have much in the freezer that was quick.  Even more, with one of our kids on a limited diet, I was even more limited in my choices.  So I did what any cook in that situation would do.  Started surfing Pinterest.

My "Rolling in Dough...Bread Dough That Is" board.

I quickly perused several recipes. Some I didn't have ingredients for. Others I didn't have time for.  I was getting a little panicked.

On a whim, though, I visited the site for this Easy Homemade French Bread.  Easy is a favorite word of mine in cooking.  And I LOVE French bread. It was the homemade part that scared me a little. I haven't done much baking and am still learning.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I went to work.

I threw my ingredients together.  Kneaded it.  Gave it a little time to rise (not really the right amount of time but it worked :).  And then shaped it and baked it.

I think I broke several of the recommendations on the recipe, mainly due to lack of time.

But guess what?

It worked.

The bread was delicious.

I kept sitting there, truly basking in each and every bite, saying, "Did I really make this???"

The bad thing is that I don't think any of my children truly appreciate what a feat that was...I threw dinner AND some French bread together in an hour and a half.

They just think it is normal.


Anyway, here is the recipe with some of my own notes.  I will be making this again. I actually have one of the loaves-since it made two- in the freezer, ready to warm up one day. It is taking all I have to NOT warm it up right now and eat each and every bite.  Myself.

2 1/2 cups warm water (not too cold, not too hot...just right :)

2 Tbsp yeast (The original poster used instant. I only had rapid rise.  It worked.)

3 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp salt

1/3 cup oil (vegetable)

6-7 cups flour (I was running low on my regular flour so I used my King Arthur's unbleached all purpose)


Add the warm water, the yeast, the sugar, and the white vinegar together and let it sit for 3-5 minutes (until bubbly).

Add in the salt, oil, and flour.  Add the flour a cup at a time.  Knead together.  The dough should be soft but still easy to mold/shape.  I added 6 cups easily but then added just a bit more. The dough was sticky but it was fairly easy to shape.

Place the dough and a pot of boiling water in the oven.  Let the dough rise.  Punch down if/when the dough reaches the top of the bowl. 

The oven is supposed to be off (per the original recipe).  However, I knew my time was limited. I turned my oven just above warm (around 175 degrees) and put the water (which keeps the dough moist) and the dough in the oven.  I only had time to punch it down once.  It worked for me.

Remove the dough from the oven once it has risen and been punched down a few times.  Or one time if you are like me. :)

Spray the bottom of a large cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal.

Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions.  Shape into loaves.  I made 2 large loaves, mainly because my family is full of bread eaters.

"Slash" (cut diagonally) the tops of the loaves 3 or 4 times.

"Whitewash" with a beaten egg.

You can then let the loaves sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to rise or if you are in a rush (like me), you can put it back in the oven at 175 degrees with a pot of boiling water.  Don't put the water in or ON the loaves.  Just in the same oven. :)  Let it rise until it is the size you would like.

Then take the pot of water out of the oven and turn the oven up to 375 degrees. 

Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Putting butter on a warm piece...Oh yum. My mouth is watering!

Though it wasn't fast fast, it was still about 90 minutes (of my time) total.  (If I ever had more time though I would let it rise a little more)

90 minutes for the pleasure of eating warm homemade bread...totally worth it.


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