Bread is another weakness of mine. I have enough junk in my trunk to show for it. It’s a staple in my family. We eat bread a lot. Makes me a little hungry just talking about it.
A couple weeks ago I made some French bread from scratch. I’ve had a fear of bread making for many years. There’s a lot of time and commitment (sounds like a marriage) you have to put into the bread making process. After doing a lot of research and building up enough confidence, I went ahead and tried this recipe. Very happy that I did.
4 cups bread flour – Recommend King Arthur’s Bread Flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water – make sure its not super hot! You’ll “kill” the yeast!
*special tools needed: a timer and thermometer
Measure out 1/4 cup of bread flour to reserve for your counter top. Place the remaining 3 3/4 cup bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Measure the salt and place on one side of the flour and add the yeast to the opposite side of the flour. Pour the warm water in the middle and mix on low speed (with the paddle attachment) until the dough comes together.
When the dough forms a mass, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Dough should clear the sides but may stick to the bottom a bit. If you feel like the dough is too sticky or too dry, add a touch more of water or flour by the tablespoonful. After 2 minutes, let the dough rest for five minutes (use a timer)
After the five minute rest, mix the dough again for 3 minutes. Your dough should be a nice soft pliable mass. Place the dough on the counter and, using the 1/4 cup of bread flour we reserved in the beginning, hand knead the dough. You may not need to incorporate the entire 1/4 cup. If the dough feels firm and solid enough, just knead for a few minutes. You should have a satiny, smooth compact ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (you can use cooking oil spray), and turn the dough over to lightly coat the entire dough in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rest for an hour and thirty minutes. The dough should double in size. Remove from the bowl, punch down and reform into a ball. Return to the bowl, cover and allow to rest for another 30 minutes.
After the second short rest, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a smooth, round ball, tucking any haggard edges on the underside of the dough. Leave to rest, covered with a damp cloth, on the lightly floured surface for 45 minutes to an hour.
During the last 20 minutes of the resting period, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking rack in the lower third of the oven and leave an upside down baking sheet in the oven to heat as well.
Just before the boules are set to go in the oven, slash the top of the loaves with 2 to 4 slashes, using a sharp knife. This will allow the bread to expand in the oven. Remove the super hot baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the dough onto the baking sheets and return to the oven.
This is the part that scared me. Just after you put the bread in the oven, take 1/4 cup of water, open the oven door, quickly poor the water onto the hot oven floor and immediately close the oven door. This creates steam…added moisture. Wait 2 minutes and repeat the process (do this twice).
Bake loaves for 20-25 minutes. They’ll be golden and gorgeous. Remove from the oven and insert a thermometer. The temperature should be between 190 to 210 degrees F.
Your bread is going to feel rock solid, but thats normal. As it cools it will soften. So you have to let it cool completely before you slice it up. Once you do that…its ready eat!
I recommend that you try this recipe . It was so easy and the bread tastes really good. If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer (save them pennies and get you one!) you can do this by hand and you’ll have the most toned arms ever.
Here’s to bigger booty’s all around the world!