French bread is something I’ve been meaning to tackle for a long time. Yesterday was slushy, cold, and rainy – the perfect excuse to stay inside and experiment! The loaves – were a bit odd shaped because I initially placed them too close together to rise and then had to move them – however, the crust was crispy, and the inside was pillowy. Fortunately, the loaves lasted long enough to take this photograph.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 cup very warm water (120ºF to 130ºF)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
1. In large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in the cup of remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, the dough will be soft.
2. On lightly floured surface, knead dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Grease large bowl with shortening or cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Grease large baking sheet with shortening or cooking spray – sprinkle with cornmeal. Push fist into dough to deflate and divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll dough up tightly on the long side to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Tuck ends under and pinch to seal. Place both loaves 3 inches apart on baking sheet.
4. Make 1/4 inch deep cuts across tops of loaves at 2-inch intervals with a knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
5. Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush on loaves. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.