A quick post today on one of the easiest but also one of the best French breads you'll ever have.
There are just four ingredients in this bread, if you don't count the water: flour, yeast, salt and sugar. I don't make this bread whole-grain because that would interfere with the deliciously soft texture which makes it a real treat. If you want a great whole-wheat French bread, try this recipe that I posted a while ago. It's also delicious and you've got the additional nutrition punch. Or try this foolproof whole-wheat French bread recipe with step-by-step pictures-- you can't miss.
But for a busy weekend day when I want great, fresh bread for dinner, the one I'm posting today's an absolute winner.
Gotta go now, but a quick nudge to send in your recipes for It's A Vegan World: British. The deadline is July 31. I know it's a bit of a challenge, but hey-- which true cook can resist a challenge? I've already got some great entries, but I really, really would love some more, so hurry please!
(Makes 2 loaves)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar (this feeds the yeast and helps it grow faster)
Mix the yeast, sugar and the water in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand five minutes until the yeast flowers or begins to froth.
Add to the bowl:
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose)
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed five minutes until you have a slightly sticky dough.
Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let it rise, covered, at room temperature 2 hours.
Punch down the dough and divide into two. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle a little flour to make it easier to work with.
Using the palms of your hand, roll each half into a long rope, about 10-12 inches in length.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet and scatter 1-2 tsp of cornmeal on it (to keep the bread from sticking)
Place the two ropes side by side, with at least 5 inches between them, on the sheet.
Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
Sprinkle some flour on the top of the loaves (this is decorative and therefore optional). With a very sharp blade, make 4-5 diagonal gashes along the length of each loaf.
About half an hour before the loaves are fully risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone (or unglazed ceramic tiles) on a rack in the middle of the oven.
Just before you place the bread in the pan, spray the inside of the oven with water.
Place the baking sheet on the baking stone or tiles. Close the oven. Spray the sides of the oven again with water five minutes later. (The water ensures a crusty loaf)
Bake for a total of 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden-brown.
Cool on a rack before cutting.