French bread

This is the French bread recipe I mentioned in the last post which I’ll bake for my brother and his wife this weekend.  This is an AWESOME recipe.  If you have a French bread pan, that will work great.  I haven’t had one in years, couldn’t find one locally so I just use a cookie sheet for the two shaped loaves.

French Bread (makes two loaves)

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups water

6 cups bread flour (give or take a little)

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar.  Let stand until frothy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl (or bread machine) combine the yeast mixture with the water, 3 cups bread flour, salt, olive oil and butter pieces.  Stir well.  (If you’re using a bread machine, select the dough setting and start the cycle).  Stir in 1/2 cup flour at a time until the dough just pulls together, slightly sticky.  The less flour you use, the softer and fluffier the bread will be- -the more flour, the denser the loaf.  When the dough has pulled together, place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  (Or let the bread machine knead it for 8 minutes).  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into a 9 X 12 rectangle and roll up jelly-roll style, starting at the long edge.  Seal edges and place seam side down on a greased or parchment-lined cooking sheet (or French bread pan).  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.

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