Monday, March 25, 2013

Homemade French Bread

This is my all time, absolute favorite kind of bread to make!  I found this recipe in GRIT magazine a few years ago, and it's been a favorite ever since.  My kids absolutely love it, right out of the oven.  I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  I use raw honey instead of sugar.  I also, have been cooking with unbleached flour for a few years now.  I have never tried using whole wheat flour, but that's next!  I may start with half white, half wheat and see how that goes. 

Recipe for Homemade French Bread (no sugar)

5 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp yeast (or 2 packages of yeast)
2 cups of hot water
2-3 tablespoons melted butter

Using upright mixer, combine all dry ingredients.  Using dough hook, mix to distribute yeast throughout flour.  Turn off mixer.  Add hot water and honey.

Turn mixer back on and allow dough hook to knead about 5 minutes.  Depending on humidity in your flour you might need to add a little more flour if dough is sticky, or water to acquire the perfectly smooth elastic bread dough.

Turn mixer off, remove dough hook.  Cover dough and let rest about 10 minutes.  Divide dough in half.

Using rolling pins, roll out half of dough into approximate 10 x 15 inch rectangle.  Roll the dough into a tube about 8" long and fold/pinch ends under.  Place seam side down onto baking stone sprinkled with cornmeal or flour to keep dough from sticking (I use a baking pan, lightly sprayed with oil and sprinkled with flour).  Repeat with other half of dough and place on pan about 2-3 inches away. 

Make 4 (or 5) diagonal cuts on top of each loaf using a sharp knife.  Brush the top of each loaf with butter.  Let rise in warm, draft free place for 35 minutes.  I like to let it rise in my oven. ( Before I start making the bread I turn my oven on 200 degrees for about 5 minutes, then I turn the oven off. By the time the bread is ready to rise, the oven has cooled down, but is warm and draft free.  I then place the bread in the oven to rise.  DO NOT let rise in oven on 200 degrees).  After the bread has been rising for 35 minutes, take the bread out of the oven and turn oven on to 400 degrees. When the oven has reached 400, place bread back in oven and let bake 25-30 minutes.  The recipe calls for making the bread in a 425 degree oven, but that is too hot for my oven and burns the outside of the bread.  I usually check the bread after 20 minutes and it is usually, really close to being ready.  I have never baked it the full 30 minutes.  When it's done the outside will be nicely browned and a bit crunchy.  The inside soft and delicious!

♥  Shannon

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