French Bread. Light, airy stuff you buy in a paper bag or a plastic sack at the grocery. I used to buy it all of the time. Still do when I’m in a hurry. When we moved here 100 years ago, my friend Diane made a loaf of this for me. Wow, I thought. This is really good. Kind of almost chewy texture, without being too dense. Beautiful, golden. The loaf was huge. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me that it turned out perfect every time (this is the Pollyanna coming out in her, I thought). But she was right. In all of the years I have been making this- it, or I, have never failed. Great things about this bread: It really is so easy. It blows the socks off of that grocery store French Bread you have been buying. It makes the best french toast. I’ll post that in a day or two. Just found a new and improved recipe for French Toast ( I know I was thinking the same thing, a recipe for French Toast??) you are going to love it. So make this tonight or tomorrow, and save a loaf.
Diane’s No Fail French Bread
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (yes tablespoon) salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups flour, divided
1 egg, beaten- for glazing bread
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. In a separate large bowl combine hot water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir well. Add the yeast mixture to the hot water-flour mixture. Mix together with large wooden spoon or paddle attachment. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. After all of the flour is added, let sit for 10 minutes, Stir. Repeat 5 times.
Divide the dough in half. Roll in a 9×12 rectangle on a floured surface. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll (long way). Place the dough on a greased baking pan (jelly roll pan), with the seam side down. Both loaves fit on one pan. Score the bread across the top 3 or 4 times, and brush with beaten egg. Let rise for 30 minutes in warm place. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes in lower half of oven, until golden brown.
Yield 2 large loaves french bread.
-I make this all of the time in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Just use the paddle attachment until you have mixed in the first 3 cups of flour. Then switch to the dough hook to mix in the final 3 cups of flour.
-I often forget the mixing down step (5 times every 10 minutes) and have never had a problem with the bread turning out perfect. Just make sure the bread raises in the bowl until it has almost doubled in size, or for about 45 minutes. Then proceed to the rolling out step.