I’ll let you in on a secret.. nothing makes my weekends better than watching cooking shows and enjoying french bread. Well, okay maybe a trip somewhere would be awesome too. But! I mean for a normal weekend, french bread is pretty great.
I used to eat it with a nice big piece of cold butter (can’t you see I’m healthy!), which hasn’t been happening these days. I’m still hopeful it will again soon.
This recipe is one my family has used for years. It’s pretty simple ingredient wise, and if I can make it, anyone can make it. It has a great crust and no added fat, which means I can eat as much as I want right?
Maybe you’ll have some french bread this weekend too!
Here it is. This recipe makes one big loaf, or two smaller ones.
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4ish cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
First you need to dissolve the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water. I let mine proof for about 5 minutes. Once that’s been sitting and looks all frothy stir in the sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until it’s smooth. Once this is done you can continue adding flour until it is easy to handle (ex. not sticking all over your hands).
Now turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic. You will have to keep adding flour until you get a dough that’s no longer sticky. I say up to 4ish cups of flour because you made need more depending on the humidity etc., or you may also need less. Alright, once you’re done kneading (about 5 minutes) the dough should be placed in a greased bowl, and covered with plastic wrap. Make sure to grease the top of the dough so it doesn’t stick to things once it rises. Now that it’s set to rise you can leave it in a warm place for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, it will be ready when doubled in size and an indentation remains if you poke it.
When it’s ready punch down the dough, and cover again for 15 minutes. Meanwhile you can grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle it with the cornmeal (this keeps things from sticking). When the dough is ready again roll or pat it out into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle, or divide into two small rectangles if you want to at this point. Then tightly roll it up into a log shape and seal the edge and ends by squeezing the dough together. Place on the cookie sheet and make a lengthwise slash in the dough. You can brush the top with cold water and then leave to rise another 1 1/2 hours uncovered.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the loaf with more cold water. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Alternatively you can use an egg wash after 20 minutes and then continue cooking, but I usually do not bother with this.
Let sit until cool enough to cut and you’re done!