Friday, February 27, 2009

Beautiful Life: French Bread for my Family

Welcome to our friends from Inspired Room! I'm glad to be part of Melissa's "Beautiful Life" link fest again.
I started making bread in July of 2008, and have had a lot of fun doing so since then. My family mostly eats wheat bread (recipe will come soon), but for guests and family care packages it's always this french bread. Incidentally, Grandpa has declared this "better than Top Foods" (which is his grocery store of choice.) He actually has a standing bakery order- I keep trying to tempt him with other goodies, but he is adamant: French Bread or nothing. So, to keep him from purchasing bread at the store I supply him with a loaf or two every Wednesday. The girls and I are packing up tomorrow morning and heading out with my dad to visit some relatives in a neighboring state, so these loaves are for those families (along with some preserves from last summer. What good is bread without jam?)

This dough is really forgiving, but it does require a little babysitting. There's minimal mixing, but you mix and let rest for 10 minutes a total of SIX times. So that's over an hour of needing to be "at hand." However, this bread goes from cupboard to table in about 2 hours, so I'd say it could be a fair trade off for other doughs that take more time, but less hands-on. I like to get this started after the girls go to bed, while I'm getting caught up on e-mails and such. I can pull it out of the oven just before I head off to bed.

The recipe is originally from my sweet and very talented mother-in-law, who received it from a friend at church.

French Bread

2 1/2 cups very hot tap water
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons yeast
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk first 3 ingredients.

Add 3 cups flour and whisk again with whisk attachment until smooth.

Add yeast and final three cups of flour and mix with dough hook attachment- add up to a cup more flour if necessary, until dough clears the side of the bowl.

(three cups of flour, and yeast)

(needs more flour)

(This is just about there. I ended up using 7 cups of flour, total.)

Turn mixer off and let rest for 10 minutes.

(After resting 10 minutes)

Mix and let rest another 10 minutes. Repeat until you've mix/rested a total of six times.

(What it will look like at the end. I probably could have used a few more tablespoons of flour, but the wetter the dough, the better the bread turns out.)

Turn bread out onto a floured board or counter top and divide into 2 balls. Roll each into a rectangle about 8 inches across, then roll tightly like a jellyroll. Pinch the seams shut on the bottom and flip over. Pull the sides down to cover the ends and tuck underneath. Place loaves on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam, or coated with corn meal.

(Hmm, I didn't do a very good job of tucking the end on that back loaf.)

Let rise 30 minutes while oven is preheating to 400. Then, slit the tops with a sharp knife and bake 25 minutes.

Bread is done when it sounds hollow if you tap it on bottom. Let cool on a rack, or rest on the corner edges of your pan.


Aunt LoLo said...

om nom nom. great tutorial!!

she she liked the sushi, and let me leave two whole rolls there!!! this is HUGE

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

So fun to see other bread bakers. In fact, I have a french bread post ready to go as well. Doing the multiple rises makes the bread so wonderfully light, and of course, the best.... but if you're ever in a hurry, you can do a "forced" time....ten minutes in the oven for about 250. I know, it's a total cheater way, but it's still delish right out of the oven. If you are ever in a crunch and can't "babysit" it...try it. Just something I learned in a hurry with my 12 years of making this yummy recipe. :)

Debbie said...

I am impressed. I make all of our bread but I use a machine!

Mary said...

I don't have a mixer with a dough hook but I'm still trying this..I love to smell bread baking in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Love your bread--I can almost smell it baking in MY oven!

Happy spring!

Anna said...

Looks yummy! Thanks for the step by step I'll have to try that out. Is that a Kitchenaid mixer?

Elizabeth G. said...

Hi, Myrnie -

I stopped by to see what you are up to...You've inspired me to make this bread, but...I don't have a bread machine. Correction, I am my bread machine. Have you ever done this by hand. If so, how did it turn out?

God bless,

Shannon T. said...

Hello, a post about your french bread by Mama Papaya inspired me to check out your website. It is really great and has some inspiring posts. Thank you for sharing!

Anna said...

Still waiting for you to add salt to the recipie.