Have you ever made bread? The idea of breadmaking can have you running for the hills. 🙂 However, if you start with an easy recipe that isn’t time-consuming or difficult, you will be pleasantly pleased with the results. Back in January of this year, I posted a recipe for no-knead bread. This has to be the easiest bread to make! Once you get the hang of it, move up the bread-making ladder and make this French loaf bread. This bread (aka baguette) has been made in France since the 18th century. The original recipe called for flour, water, yeast, and salt. Not much has changed since then other than the addition of sugar.
This recipe is very forgiving (me likey). The traditional baguette is 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter and 24 to 30 inches long. Don’t laugh, but my loaves were 3 inches in diameter and 16 inches long. That’s why I am calling it a French bread loaf. And the loaves did not have a crispy exterior. Regardless of their size and shape, these bread loaves were delicious! I will make these again and try to emulate what a baguette should look like. But to be honest, if they don’t, I’m not bothered.
you will need
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast + 1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Place yeast and sugar in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water. Stir and let sit (bloom) for 5 minutes. While the yeast is doing its thing, add 3 cups of flour and salt to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the flour and salt. When the yeast is ready, pour it into the flour. On a low speed, mix. Then add the remaining 2 cups of flour. Mix on medium speed until the dough looks like it’s trying to climb up the dough hook. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball. Grease a large bowl with butter, add dough and cover.
Let rise for 30 minutes.
Punch down the dough (this is the fun part) and then plop it onto a floured surface. Slice the dough in half. Work with one half by rolling it out into a rectangle (should be close to 24 inches but don’t worry if it isn’t). Start by rolling one edge and finish to the end. Tuck the ends under and place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. With a sharp knife, make incisions in the dough. Cover and let rest for at least 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375f. Uncover the dough and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Add a sprinkling of freshly grated sea salt. Now here’s the hard part; wait 15 minutes before slicing. I know, it’s a LOT to ask especially when your kitchen smells so darn good. Here’s the reason why. When the bread is freshly baked, the inside is still very hot. Slicing it immediately can cause the steam and moisture inside to escape, which can lead to a less desirable texture and a gummy crumb. Trust me, not the result you want. So be patient and let the science of baking do what it’s meant to.
the culinary chase’s note:
IF there are any leftovers, make French toast, breadcrumbs or panzanella. Enjoy!