Monday, January 9, 2012

French Bread

We each have our own thing about food to love. Mine is fresh bread out of the oven, slathered with butter. It has also proven to be one of my biggest 'problem areas' of cooking/ baking and making stuff.  I have been trying to make a light, fluffy bread and the one recipe I have tried several times, finally failed me for the last time. I pulled it out of my 3 ring binder and tossed it in the trash.

I have tried it several times, hotter water, cooler water, let the yeast proof longer, not as long, let the bread rise 3 times, 2 times, skip that throw it in the oven- all different things I have tried and nothing works. At least it hasn't for me. 

So I went back to a blog I have gone to many times before over the years and found this recipe.  One thing I absolutely LOVE about this recipe is the versatility of it.  I made hamburger buns last night and they are good, big, fluffy, mmmmm.... Made baguets from it last week and although it seems you are putting the ingredients in backwards from other recipes- this one worked nicely for me.

French Bread from back in 2008 off the blog- Mennonite Girls Can Cook. I'm not sure if I can post the whole thing here, but if there is a problem, they can let me know and I will pull it, just leaving a link to the recipe.  They are a group of ladies who seem to have a great, easy recipe for everything. Gotta love that!

French Bread

I got this recipe from Lovella G. ( another Lovella, and another great friend) way back when our kids went to the same elementary school. This recipe has become sort of a "staple" kind of recipe for a quick bread, for pizza crust, pizza buns, focaccia bread or baguettes (used for spinach dip etc) As you can see - It is a must have! =)

2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp salt
2 cups hot tap water
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
2 Tbsp instant yeast

Mix in order given, mixing the yeast with a little flour and adding that while dough is still very soft. Add enough flour to make a dough that holds together in a ball shape and is not sticky if you handle it with floured hands. Cover.
Let rise until double, about 1/2 hour. Divide in half.
Roll out to about 12x15” rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style and place on greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cut diagonal slits on top. Let rise about 30 - 45 min. Brush with mixture of 1 egg and 2 Tbsp milk, beaten with fork.
Bake at 400F for 20 min, or until golden.

For Pizza:
Instead of rolling out the dough, just divide and press onto 2 pizza pans. Bake at 400F until light golden - just done. About 12 minutes.
Spread lightly with pizza or spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with any cold cuts you want . . . ham, salami, pepperoni, cooked hamburger (left over sloppy joe sauce) or cooked chicken, slivered peppers, grated cheese (mozzarella, or assortment). Sprinkle with oregano and basil. Bake at 375, about 15 min.

focaccia bread:
Add about 1 Tbsp of each (fresh if possible) thyme, oregano, rosemary, chopped into tiny bits,
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1- 2 tsp garlic powder to the dough, as you're mixing it. Cover and let rise.
Press dough into 2 - 8 X 8 greased pans. Make indentations with end of wooden spoon and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal and rosemary (optional)
Cover and rise 1/2 hour. Bake until light golden, about 25 - 30 minutes. Serve with Olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

dipping bread:
Use any kind of combination of flour and grains that you like, roll out to make long skinny loaves (baguettes) and slice at an angle. Great with Spinach dip.
Maybe this is too much information, but it's there to give you ideas on what you can do and I hope you try something new and enjoy it.