I decided that I needed to try making french bread, and this recipe from Deals to Meals looked promising. I spent most of the time feeling like I had messed something up, and felt a little frustrated at the end when I thought it hadn’t turned out (they baked up a little flatter than I would have hoped) – but when we actually ate the bread, it was awesome. It is a bread that takes some time with rising before you bake it, so make sure you have some time to wait. Mine made three medium-sized loaves.
- 2 1/2 c. warm water
- 2 T. yeast
- 3 T. sugar
- 2 T. white vinegar
- 1 T. salt
- 1/3 c. oil
- 6-7 c. flour (or a little more if it's too soft), one cup at a time--add enough until the dough is soft, but firm enough to mold into dough loaves
- Add the first four ingredients together (through the vinegar) in a large bowl and let sit until bubbly (about 3-5 minutes). Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead for 2-5 minutes and then put in the oven with a small pot of boiling water to rise (the water will keep the dough moist). Punch the dough when it gets to the top of the mixing bowl. Do this every time it gets to the top of the bowl, as long as you can (2-5 times).
- Put the dough on a floured countertop and divide into 3 sections. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal on the bottom of the sheet, if desired. Roll the dough balls into rectangle/long French bread shapes. Slash tops of bread diagonally 3-5 times and cover with a beaten egg (if you desire a shiny look – just leave “as is” to have a “floured top” look).
- Let rise** 30 minutes (or until doubled) on the counter, then bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
If you would like to speed up your rising time in the end, you can use your oven. Turn it on to the lowest temperature (180 degrees - something like that) and place your bread loaves in the oven. Then when they are to the size you desire, turn the heat up and bake until done (will be less than 30 minutes - keep an eye on them). I actually did that when I was waiting for the first 2-5 risings and punching it down as well - turn the oven on and let it heat up, then turn it off and wait for it to rise, punch it down, rise, punch down, etc. Don't forget your water in the oven during the first round of risings - that seemed to help with moisture.