Thursday, December 16, 2010

homemade french bread

This recipe comes to you from my gorgeous Guatemalan friend, Luisa, who is a cooking/crafting/do-it-yourself-er extraordinaire, but unfortunately, her blog is also her family blog, and so it's private.  So, I hope she won't mind if I share with you her (mother-in-law's) recipe for homemade french bread because I think it's something everyone should have!!

**Read through the whole recipe first before you start.  It takes roughly two hours start to finish, so bear that in mind when making this.**

Homemade French Bread: (2 loaves)

2-1/2 cups very warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 pkgs or 4 tsp dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp cooking oil
6 cups white flour
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
1 egg
corn starch

1.  In 1 cup warm water (warm enough for a child's bath--not yours!  You don't want to scorch your yeast, just make it feel all snugly and warm,) add the yeast and allow it to begin percolating.

2.  Meanwhile, run a large mixing bowl under warm water and then measure out your sugar, salt, oil, and 3 cups of flour into the bowl.

3.  Add the yeasty water plus the other 1-1/2 cups warm water and mix. 

4.  Slowly add the other 3 cups flour, mixing between each cup added.  By the end of this step, I usually knead with my hands rather than mixing with a spoon, but whatever you want is fine. (**This recipe works really well at a high altitude, so those of you living in lower altitudes than Utah might want to stop with just 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour total.)

5.  Let dough rise for 10 minutes and then stir or knead it back down (even if it doesn't appear to have risen much.)  Repeat this step four times.

6.  Divide the dough in two parts and place one on a lightly floured surface, leaving the other in the bowl for now.

7.  Roll the dough on the counter into a rectangle approximately 9" by 12".

8.  Roll up the dough jelly roll style and pinch the ends closed.

9.  Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn starch.

10.  Make the other loaf in the same manner.

11.  Allow the dough to rise uncovered for 30 minutes.

12.  Using a sharp knife, make 3 shallow diagonal slices in the top of each loaf.

13.  Brush the loaves with a slightly beaten whole egg, and then sprinkle with poppy/sesame seeds, if you would like.  The heavier you brush on the egg, the crustier the top of your loaf will be.
 (We like the top fairly soft, so we brush the egg on fairly lightly.  We also like to make one loaf without seeds.)

14.  Bake immediately in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Enjoy your beautiful, delicious homemade french bread.  Thanks, Luisa!!

This ends up being a lot of bread for our family, so we usually have it as a side dish with something like spaghetti or chicken casserole.  Then, the next day I usually slice it thinly and make mini-pizzas for the trouble-makers' lunch.  It can also be sliced across the middle and made into garlic bread (grocery store style.)

Any other french bread ideas out there?  I'd love to hear them!


Tonia said...

I will never be able to do yeast again without thinking about it being warm and snuggly.
We like french bread with bruschetta (recipes are super easy and you can find on or dipped in olive oil with herbs (we have a rosemary bush so we usually go with that) or buttered up with a little garlic and thrown in the oven for awhile. Most people probably know these ideas but classics are the best!

Luisa said...

Oh man, I'm blushing! and of course I don't mind, please spread the love!

I love the mini-pizza idea, it looks so yummy :)