June 9, 2012

Simple French Bread

Who isn't addicted to Pinterest these days? I definitely am and I am not ashamed! You should follow me on Pinterest (hint hint). I was scrolling through my favorite boards and I saw this recipe and knew I had to try it. Summer diet starts tomorrow, so why not make a loaf of delicious bread? Thank god I have tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese in my fridge :) This was so, so easy. I swear (or will try really hard) I will never buy a loaf of French bread at the grocery store again!!

This recipe is very simple/basic. I considered adding herbs to the dough but wanted to see how the test batch came out first. It is, um, awesome! Next time I will add some dried rosemary and serve with spaghetti!!!

Simple French Bread
(this amount makes 3 small loaves or 2 large):

2 1/2 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
3 T. sugar
2 T. white vinegar
1 T. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
6-7 c. bread flour (or a little more if it's too soft)

Combine the warm water, yeast, sugar and vinegar in a mixing bowl and whisk to combing. Let sit until proofed (aka bubbly) (about 5-10 minutes).  In another bowl combine salt and flour. (Tip: I put 6 c. of flour in the bowl and added the last cup or so of flour to the dough after it had come together and I could tell how much more it required.) Measure out the oil.

Once the yeast mixture has proofed pour the oil and the flour mixture into the mixing bowl. Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, slowly combine the ingredients until a soft dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead (I use "4" on my Kitchen Aid) for 2-5 minutes.  If the dough is still sticky add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time until it no longer sticks to your fingers.

Put the mixing bowl in the oven with a small pot of boiling water. The water will keep the dough moist. Watch the dough and punch it down twice when it gets to the top of the mixing bowl (about every 30-40 minutes).

Put the dough on a greased countertop and divide into 2-3 sections. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Shape the dough balls into rectangle/long French bread shapes. Slash tops of bread diagonally 3-5 times and cover with a beaten egg. Let rise 30 minutes (or until doubled in size) on the counter, or you can put them in your oven at 170 and wait until they are the size you want to be once baked.

Once they have risen to the right size, turn your stove to 375 (without opening the door!) and let them bake until done (about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven). Or, just raise on the counter and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Bake and serve warm out of the oven!
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