Bread & Baking Recipes

Recipes Simple French Bread

Recipes Simple French Bread

This is a really easy and very tasty, but not fast, recipe for French bread or rolls. Baking with a pan of hot water in the oven creates a chewy crust, if a crispy crust is more to your taste, use an egg wash instead of the coating of flour and skip the water.

You can prepare this up to the baking stage a few days in advance. After the last rising, freeze on the prepared baking sheet. About an hour before dinner, thaw and bake as below.

French Bread or Rolls

Makes 1 baguette, 8 sandwich rolls or 12 dinner rolls

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water

3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon cornmeal

DIRECTIONS

Make the dough:

*In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 10 minutes in a warm place. Add 2 cups flour and salt to the yeast mixture.

*Beat with an electric mixer or mix by hand until a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms – about 10 minutes for mixing by hand.

*Let the dough rest 10 minutes. *With a dough hook and the mixer running, add remaining flour and knead another 5 minutes. Or work the remaining flour into the dough by kneading by hand for about 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary to form a soft, elastic dough.

*Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of dough.

*Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, up to 2 or more hours. Punch down the risen dough and re-form into a ball. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in size – about 1 1/2 hours.

*Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor of the oven or on the lowest rack.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Form a baguette:

*On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

*Roll into an oblong jelly-roll fashion, sealing the side and ends by pinching the dough together.

*Place on baking pan dusted with cornmeal. Loosely cover and let rolls rise for 30 minutes.

-or-

Form rolls:

*On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 8 or 12 equal pieces.

*Form each piece into an oblong shape and place on a baking pan lightly dusted with cornmeal. Loosely cover and let rolls rise for 30 minutes.

Bake:

*Rub a little flour over the tops of the baguette or rolls.

*Using a razor blade or sharp knife, make a 1/4-inch-deep slash on the top of each.

*Slide the baking sheet into the upper third of the oven and bake until dark golden brown – about 20 minutes for dinner rolls, 25 minutes for sandwich rolls or 30 minutes for a baguette.

*Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow to cool 10 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to two days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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