French Bread

French Bread

I know, I know….this bread is terrible for you. It’s made with white, all purpose flour. Flour of the devil. Void of all nutritional value and will surely make you crave nothing but sugar and more white devil flour for the rest of the day. IT. IS. WORTH. IT! Smear it with butter and homemade jam or dip it in olive oil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy every bite. Life is short, eat some white flour.

I meant to write you last week, we were in Sanibel, FL on vacation and last year while we were there I reviewed all our restaurants. This year the internet connection was a bust so that wasn’t possible. So here is my super brief review of our visit this year:

  • Lazy Flamingo- EAT HERE! Best wings (we have had the teriyaki and hot) and the most delicious chicken caesar salad made with their own homemade caesar dressing. Yum!
  • Island Pizza- This place is gross. Don’t eat here. The pizza is super cheap and the service is no good.
  • George and Wendy’s Seafood Grill- Best meal we had all week! Hubs had drunken grouper and I had chicken and broccoli over penne with lemon butter sauce. We took dessert home and about died. I had chocolate cake and Mr. SweeterThing had key lime pie. Everything was amazing and the service was excellent. 
  • Island Cow- I raved about this last year and I’m doing it again. A huge menu and everything on it is amazing. Good ol’e comfort food and great service. 
  • Cantina Captiva- Really good mexican food. Their pork burrito is amazing, they have a great queso and the servers are super friendly. 

Onto this bread recipe and tutorial! Combine warm water and active yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. 

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 Add some sugar and 2 cups of flour and let it sit for 10 minutes to activate the yeast, it will get big and bubbly.

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Add some salt and 3 more cups of flour and let your mixer incorporate the flour into the dough for at least 5 minutes. It will start out looking like this…..

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And before long it will look like this….

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You can see that the dough is smooth and has started forming a ball on the dough hook. This is the point at which I took the dough out of the mixer and started kneading by hand. Next time, I will continue to let my mixer do this for me. Kneading this by hand was annoying and made bad words sneak their way into my head. So I would recommend that you continue to add flour 2 tablespoons at a time and let your mixer knead it into the flour until you have a smooth elastic dough. 

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Resist the urge to use too much flour, your dough will still be sticky. If you add so much flour that your dough isn’t sticky, you’ll end up with a heavier loaf, denser bread. It will still be delicious but not quite the light chewy bread you’re looking for. I ended up using 5 1/2 cups of flour, I wouldn’t go over that. You should be able to pick your dough up in one cohesive ball of dough, it should be smooth and elastic. 

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Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, place your dough into the bowl and turn once to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel and set in a warm place to rise. I always place mine in a COLD oven with the oven light on. Mine was doubled in size in 45 minutes. When it’s doubled, gently punch down the dough

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Divide your dough into two equal balls and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover with the plastic wrap and let sit for another 10 minutes.

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Roll each ball of dough out into a large rectangle and roll up tightly starting from one of the long edges. 

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Moisten the edges and pinch the seam together and then gently fold and pinch under the ends to make a tapered loaf. Place each loaf on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal (which I didn’t have so I skipped this). Combine one egg white and a splash of water and gently beat. Brush half the egg wash over the loaves. DSC_0793

Cover your loaves with greased plastic wrap and let rise another 30-45 minutes until the loaves have doubled in size. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 angled slits in each loaf just before baking. 

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Bake for 20 minutes at 375 and then brush again with the rest of the egg wash and bake an additional 15 minutes until the bread is done in the middle.  DSC_0794

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Move to a cooling wrack and let cool completed before cutting with a serrated blade. This could be adapted in so many ways for garlic bread, pizza bread, etc. Enjoy!

French Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 5- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
  3. 2 teaspoons salt
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  6. 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  7. 1 egg white
  8. 1 tsp. water
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine water and yeast and stir to combine. Stir in 2 cups flour and 2 tablespoons sugar and stir until well blended. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the salt and another three cups of flour and mix with the dough hook attachment until all the flour is incorporated. Add flour 2 tablespoons at a time while the dough continues to knead in the mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic and can be shaped into cohesive some still somewhat sticky ball.
  2. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
  4. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.
Adapted from All Recipes
Adapted from All Recipes
A Sweeter Thing http://www.asweeterthing.com/
 

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