One of my cooking goals for myself this year was to tackle bread baking at home. While I have never had a catastrophe with yeast myself, I have always been a little bit scared of it. What do I do if my bread dough doesn't rise? At first, I was dependent on the dough cycle of our bread machine thinking that some magical process happened inside there. Now that I am a little more confident, I have had success with dough rising outside of that little box, but I have realized one thing. Who cares if the bread machine does my work? It frees up my time to do something else, and the bread is still homemade:)
This is a french bread recipe that I found on For the Love of Cooking that was adapted from Lydna's Recipe Box to use the dough cycle of the bread machine. If you are wanting to make it by hand, the directions can be found by clicking on Lynda's link. I actually made this on a whim as I needed a loaf of French bread for sandwiches that were on the menu for that night but wasn't happy with the loaves that I was finding in the store.
The dough came together beautifully. I did have some difficulty shaping the loaves as you may be able to tell from the photos. The directions are clear, but for some reason when I folded the ends under, I didn't end up with a cohesive loaf (ie. you can still see where I pinched the ends underneath the loaf). Pam's loaf is beautiful, so I am going to go ahead and call this user error in the fact that it would probably look nicer if I had pinched it together better.
The recipe makes 2 loaves. I wrapped up the second loaf and froze it for another night. We haven't eaten it yet, but I've had good success with freezing bread. Overall, the taste was great. How can fresh bread not be good? Now if I can only find a way to make it whole wheat :) Enjoy!
Bread-machine Crusty French Bread
Bread-machine version from For the Love of Cooking
Originally adapted from Lynda's Recipe Box
2 cups of warm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope (2-1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water
Place all the ingredients (through yeast) in the bread machine in the order listed. Select the dough cycle and press start. One the machine is finished, remove the pan from the bread-machine and punch down on the dough (deflate it). Cover and let it rise a second time, until doubled in size, about 30 minutes (I put my pan back in the warm bread machine without turning it on).
Remove the dough and place it on a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece in a rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch the seam together. Tuck the ends underneath. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the bread on the prepared baking sheet; cover and let rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully make several evenly placed diagonal cuts (with a serrated knife) on top of each loaf. Beat together the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and then brush over each loaf with a pastry brush.
Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Enjoy!