Posted by Denise on July 12, 2011
Fresh out of the oven, this loaf of French Bread did not last very
of freshly baked bread wafting through our house (or anywhere else for that matter!) is one of my favorite
scents. Unfortunately, it happens all too infrequently lately. I have a habit of convincing myself that I
don’t have time to make homemade bread, but then when I do make bread I am always happily reminded that it
really isn’t very much work after all. And the results are so worth it. So let’s get to today’s
This French bread is very easy to make, but it bakes into two
incredibly good loaves of crusty bread with a soft, tender interior perfect for spreading a creamy layer of butter
or sopping up that last bit of spaghetti sauce from your plate. And boy, do they taste great. So good that Glenn,
who is the king of saying “no” to carbs, had three thick slices last night. And said that it was totally worth
I mixed the ingredients together in my stand mixer fitted with
the dough hook. After mixing the ingredients well, I took the dough out
and tested it for stickiness. It was slightly sticky, so I added flour to it as I kneaded the dough on a lightly
floured surface for just a couple of minutes. After popping it into a lightly greased bowl and covering it with a
clean cloth to keep the dough from drying out, we placed it in a draft-free part of the kitchen counter and left
the house to run errands. As it normally happens, the errands took longer than we thought they would. When we got
home I checked out the dough and it was perfectly fine. I punched it down (gently because it had behaved itself
while we were gone J ) divided it into
two pieces and stretched each piece to fit into a French bread baker sprinkled with a little cornmeal to keep the
bread from sticking. I could have just as easily formed the dough into
loaves on a baking sheet such as a cookie sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal.
Make sure you brush the raw loaves with the egg white and
water mixture once before you bake the loaves, then again twenty minutes into baking since this helps give the
loaves the lovely golden brown crust. Just don’t make the same mistake my Mom made on her first attempt. Mom is
allowing me to share this story for the enjoyment of everyone and as a lesson for novice bread bakers.
When Mom and Dad were first married, Mom decided to surprise
Dad with a beautiful loaf of homemade bread with their supper. The recipe, similar to this one, called for basting
the loaf with a wash of water or milk to give it a pretty crust and texture. Mom lovingly gave it a baste as she
put it into the oven, and another one as the recipe directed. Thinking that if a little is good, a little more
would be better, Mom continued to baste the loaf until it was a gorgeous golden brown.
When Dad got home from work that night, a delicious supper
complete with the golden bread was waiting for him. After dishing out the main meal, Dad grabbed the knife to cut
the pretty loaf into slices…and the knife didn’t put a dent into it. Not discouraged at all, they pulled out a
sharp, serious knife and tried it again. Nothing. Nothing was putting a dent into this loaf of bread. After dinner,
Dad took a hack saw to the beautiful loaf of bread and finally was able to cut a slice off. Inside, the crust was
so thick that only a small area the size of a quarter in the center was soft bread. So, please, follow the
instructions and only baste the bread as directed and you’ll be fine!
Many thanks to Mom for sharing her experience so others can
avoid embarrassment and disappointment!
Ingredients for making French Bread
Note: To make the French bread look fancier, the dough can be braided together to
form a fancier presentation.
½ Cup warm water, approximately 105-112 degrees Fahrenheit
Tablespoon white sugar
Packet dry yeast (can be rapid rise or other instant yeast)
5-6 Cups white all purpose flour
Cups warm water
Egg white mixed into about ¼ cup of water
1. Spray Pam cooking
spray or otherwise grease a bowl large enough to contain the dough when it doubles in
2. Heat oven to 375
degrees Fahrenheit. Dissolve yeast and sugar in the ½ cup warm
what yeast looks like when you turn your back for a few
3. Mix the yeast
mixture with all of the rest of the ingredients. The dough should be quite stiff. If it is
still sticky, add some more flour a little at a time and knead the flour into the dough until
it is not sticky. Shape into a single ball.
4. Place the dough into
the greased bowl and turn over to get grease on both sides of dough ball. Cover with a clean
towel or cloth and put the bowl in a draft-free location. I like to put it in the oven (do
not turn the oven on). Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size. This can take 30 to 60
minutes. Do not worry if it is a little longer, it will be fine.
Before dough rises
After dough has doubled
5. Take the bowl with
the dough out of the oven. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch the dough down by
pushing your fist into the middle of the dough. Divide into two equal
6. Shape each dough
section into a French bread loaf shape, long and slightly tapered on each end. Lightly dust
pan with cornmeal and place the loaves on the pan. Cover with a towel again and allow to rise
again, approximately 20-30 minutes or more depending on temperature in
kitchen. When dough has risen again, lightly slash 3 diagonal slashed across each
Prepping French bread baker with
dough into loafs in baker or on cookie sheet
French Bread has doubled in baker
Slashing tops of French Bread loaves. Yes, they deflate slightly, but they bounce
right back when baked.
7. Brush top and sides
of loaves with egg white and water mixture. Put loaves into oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Carefully brush the egg white and water mixture over loaves again and put back into the oven
for another 20 minutes. If the loaves appear to be browning unevenly, rotate the pan to allow
it to bake more evenly. Loaves are done when nicely browned and they sound hollow when rapped
with a spoon or your knuckles (don’t burn yourself!).
See, the bread bounced back from slashing the tops
8. Let cool for a few
minutes, then cut on diagonals using a serrated bread knife.