Food Friday: French Bread. Yes, I said French Bread.

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Bread making, like spectacularly detailed needlework or translating hieroglyphics, is one of those things that just wows people.

And while I could never produce detailed needlework or spell my name in hieroglyphics, I CAN make bread. But here’s the thing—you can, too. It couldn’t be easier, especially if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you don’t, well, whose upper arms couldn’t use a little toning from hand kneading bread?

The thing to keep in mind about homemade bread is that even imperfect homemade bread, which many or even most of my loaves are, is still AMAZING. There is almost no such thing as a bad loaf of homemade bread unless it didn’t rise at all, but if that is the case then we’ll just call that plaster of paris and make art out of it.

So this recipe is a double wow, because it isn’t just sandwich-style bread, it is actually fancy French bread. Or at least it appears that way, but in fact it is just as easy as regular bread, if not easier.

I made this recipe for the first time recently when my can’t-bear-to-load-two-boys-back-into-the-car-and-go-to-the-store self was at odds with my carb-loving-must-have-bread-with-this-meal self, and I was surprised at how well it came out.

Try this next time someone says to you, “Oh, how about you just bring some bread?”

Easy French Bread

1 Tablespoon yeast

2 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups all-purpose flour (can also substitute up to 1/2 the amount with whole wheat flour)

1 egg white to brush on the top (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar, salt and about three cups of the flour. Turn on your mixer or start stirring. Beat until smooth, then gradually add remaining three cups of flour. Knead on a floured board until satiny smooth or just keep that mixer going.

Cover your mixing bowl with a clean cloth, and put in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. (I put my bowl in the oven and turn the light on, which makes it very cozy warm indeed.)

When the dough has risen to your satisfaction, punch it down (this part is fun), and knead a little bit.

Now you can take the dough and shape it into desired shapes, like two long skinny snakes. Put the snakes on a greased baking sheet.

To get all fancy-like, cut diagonal gashes in the loaves, about 3/4 inch deep. Don’t be shy, lots of cuts are good. Cover with the same cloth, put in the warm place again, and let it rise for one hour, or until doubled.

Bake at 450 for about 35 minutes on the highest rack possible. If you want shiny loaves (and, really, don’t we all?), brush with egg white, and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the bottom. Serve with butter or with a fruity olive oil for dipping.

To get really fancy-like, you could also sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds or poppy seeds after the egg wash, too. Where does one get those? Why, from the bread baker’s mecca, of course, King Arthur Flour. I’m going to their STORE later this month—it’s heaven.

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16 Responses to “Food Friday: French Bread. Yes, I said French Bread.”

  1. Jess Says:

    Mmm. I love French bread. I can’t help it. I lived in France for a year and those people got their claws into me. I never thought of trying to make it myself. What a good idea.

  2. Sunshine Says:

    Last year, I decided to conquer the world of soups. I set out to master six kickass soups, and I did it.

    This year I’m hoping to master bread. My first attempt was Challah and it turned out awesome. I’ve copied off this recipe for French bread, it looks fab, and easy!

  3. erin Says:

    I totally want to try and make some bread. I used to use my mom’s bread machine when I was younger and I loved it.

  4. laura Says:

    This French Bread sure looks doable…I have another recipe to try, but it’s so much more complicated. Have you tried the King Arthur white whole wheat flour yet? You use it like whole wheat, but it has a lighter flavor (it’s made from a different species (phylum?) of wheat. Anyway, I used it in my oatmel cookie recipe in place of the AP flour (adjusted the amount by feel to get the right consistency) and I had delicious whole grain oatmeal cookies (which cancels out the butter, right?).

    I’m going to have to add King Arthur to my upcoming food tour of VT–hoping Cabot factory will be as good as Tillamook!

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Sounds delish. I’ve made French bread rolls before which turned out fantastic! I sure do love me some carbs!

  6. Molly Says:

    Hmmm. May have to add to the Food Molly and Clink Will Consume This Weekend list…

  7. JenBun Says:

    That looks tasty … I’ll have to give it a try! Hope it’s easy, but if you say it is…

    Do you have to be French for it to turn out right? 😉

  8. Erinne Says:

    I make bread all the time – that recipe sounds good and if I leave the egg white out – totally vegan – yay. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Suzanne Says:

    Thank you! Chef Jr and I purchased a jar of yeast last week because we wanted to work on deep dish pizza doughs. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough things to make before it expired.

    I think tomorrow morning will be spent making bread and prepping his pizza dough for dinner.

  10. emetophobicmommy Says:

    Yum – I just decided what we’re doing in this house tomorrow. Perfect! Thank you.

  11. Smiling Mom Says:

    I’m totally jazzed about your Food Fridays! I have to ask, though. How’s it taste when you substitute 1/2 flour with whole wheat? I want to make this on Monday for a dinner I’m going to. And I’m on a huge fiber kick these days. So please let me know if it’s worth trying with whole wheat flour or if I should stick with the original recipe. Thanks!!

  12. Anna Says:

    I just did it, and it was fabulous! I highly recommend it. I did about 1 1/4 cups whole wheat out of the total of six cups.

  13. christine Says:

    I’m going to try this for tomorrow night’s CDR Homecoming Dinner. Yum!

  14. Smiling Mom Says:

    Thanks! I’m going to make it right now.

    -N

  15. Suzanne Says:

    My house smells wonderful. Thanks for the recipe. Hubby and I will snack on one loaf tonight. Tomorrow, I suspect the other loaf might get dipped in the chocolate fondue. Yum

  16. Food Friday: Chicken & Corn Chowder « Hank & Willie Says:

    […] it serves, but I’m guessing that it will comfortably serve 6-8, especially with a loaf of Easy French Bread. So if you are Michelle Duggar, the Arkansas mother now pregnant with her 18th child, you’ll […]

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