Tuesday, April 10, 2012

French Bread

(All photos courtesy of Sonja, from Simply Sonja Photography based in Bellevue, WA)

If you've seen my post on "pizza" bread, this post will look very, very familiar. The process is basically the same...so I'm using a lot of the same photographs. Waste not, want not!

Put water in your biggest bowl. The water should be very warm, like a steaming bath. Other ingredients will cool it down before you add your yeast.

Add your salt, oil and sugar to your water. Add half of your flour.

This is what your dough should look like after the first addition of flour. (Except your dough will be white - remember I'm using pictures from a different variation of this bread.

Add your yeast to the loose flour mixture, then add the rest of your flour and stir to combine.

You'll need to use your hand at the end. Scoop around the side of the dough, catching some of the loose flour with your hand, and scoop under the dough. Then lift up the dough and fold it in on itself.

Once the dough is how you want it, let it rest for an hour, punching it down every 10 minutes. Form into two loaves, let rise for 30 minutes, and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Delicious, and about two and a half hours from start to finish. These loaves come out to about $.50 each, if you buy the ingredients in bulk.

French Bread
(Adapted from Myrnie's recipe)

2 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. canola oil
6-7 cups of All-Purpose flour, divided
2 Tbsp. yeast

In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of flour. Stir well to combine - your dough should be very loose. Add the yeast and another 3 cups of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon, and then use your hand to fold in flour, adding more as necessary. The dough will be soft - you are not kneading the dough. Just folding in flour until it forms a basically cohesive shape. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, and then punch it down and flip it over in the bowl. Repeat the resting-punching process every 10 minutes for an hour, then remove the dough from the bowl. Divide it into two loaves and form into long rolls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350. Slash the tops (don't be afraid!) and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with your fingernail.