Monday, February 17, 2014

French Bread


The recipe I found called it french bread, and boy was it good!
This bread was not only delicious, but it smelled fantastic... which is a sure sign it's a good bread recipe! Seriously, if I could capture the smell and put it here, I definitely would!

To make this you need 4 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 2 Tsp (one packet) of active yeast, 2 tsp of salt and 2 to 3 tsp of sugar. I find it amazing that it uses just five ingredients.

I combined the warm water, sugar and yeast in a measuring cup to test if the yeast was alive. The water absolutely has to be warm, it can't be too hot or too cold, because it will kill the yeast. The reason the sugar is mixed in with this mixture is because it helps the yeast. 

Dough with the paddle attachment
Dough with the dough hook.
Once you see bubbles, pour the mixture in a mixer with 3 3/4 cups flour and the salt. The remaining 1/4 cup of flour is for dusting the counter. Mix the dough for one minute with the paddle attachment, then let it rest, and then resume mixing it with the dough hook for 2 to 3 mins. One thing to note: when you make bread you must pay attention to the weather. If it's humid, you'll most likely need more flour. If it's less humid outside, you'll most likely need more water. If you decide that you need more of either, add it a tsp at a time, but keep in mind that this is a slightly wet dough. It sticks a bit to the sides of the bowl, but is easy to work with.

Next, knead it a couple times, until it can be formed into a nice compact ball. The recipe said to use as much flour as you need to knead into the dough to make it nice and compact, but I honestly didn't use that much.

Once the dough is in a nice ball, lightly grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl so the dough may rise. While it was rising I put the bowl in the oven (the oven was off). The oven is a nice calm place for the dough to rise. The dough needs to rise at least 11/2 hours, or until it's doubled in size. You can also put plastic wrap over the bowl if you want.

Look at it! It rose!
Now is time for the best part... The shaping. Before you can shape it though, you have to  punch the dough. Once you've punched the dough, cut the dough in half, leaving one half in the bowl and put the other on the counter. At this stage of the game, you can't knead the dough again, or you'll lose all the air you created. So, you pick it up one end in each hand, and stretch it to the length you want. I stretched it 2 to 3 times, stretching it and then folding it over, stretching and folding over... until I got this. 

Once it is to the shape of your liking, pinch the ends. This traps the air in it, so it doesn't end up lop sided. And then repeat with the other loaf.

Now put these back in the oven that's off, or a safe place, for 30 minutes, or until you are almost ready to bake them.

When it's time to bake them, take them out of the safe place and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. It's time to make the slashes. The slashes help release the steam, but they also give the bread a traditional look. To make the slashes, some people use a knife and others use scissors, either way works. Before the loaves went in the oven, I put a little olive oil on them because I was afraid they wouldn't brown properly. But this may not be necessary if you don't want.

Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. It took 25 minutes for mine to bake.

 The way to tell if they are done is to look at the bottoms. If the bottoms are nice and golden too, they are ready for consumption.

Next time I would...
The next time will probably be in spring, because Mom had a cool idea of adding a little rosemary into the dough. I mean can you imagine that? That would smell amazing.    

The thoughts are... 
Yum! This was fantastic! It was good with butter, by itself, and it was good with my brothers idea: a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and dip the bread in that:) Definitely 5 out of 5 whiskers! 

Adapted from this recipe

No comments:

Post a Comment