French Bread

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When I first started cooking and baking, there were so many things that I had to learn the hard way. Sugar burns hurt like hell, only cook on high if you are going to be boiling water, and some things just can’t be rushed, like pulled pork and letting bread rise. Patience is a virtue!

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Baking my own bread was definitely a learning experience for me. I used to run scared from any recipe that even hinted at the use of yeast. I started out using my bread maker, and slowly started making my own bread by hand. Now I love experimenting with different types and shapes of bread.

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French bread was always a staple that I purchased from the store, but after finding this recipe I no longer buy my bread. This recipe is SO easy!! And since it makes 3 loaves, I can freeze them to have on hand whenever I need one. I would recommend this recipe to any bread-baking beginner. And really, what is better than a house that smells like freshly baked bread??

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French Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon shortening
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Fill a glass measuring cup with 1 cup of water and place in microwave. Heat until water is boiling.
  • In another glass measuring cup, fill it with 1/3 cup warm water. Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of yeast over the water and stir with a fork until yeast is dissolved.
  • Pour the sugar, salt and shortening into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using a fork, mash these ingredients together. Pour the 1 cup of boiling water over the shortening mixture, then add the 1 cup of cold water into the mixer. Pour in the yeast/water mixture.
  • Add 3 cups of flour into the mixer, and using the dough hook, turn mixer on low speed. With the mixer still on, slowly add in the remaining 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Be careful not to over-flour. I used all 6 cups, but would not use any more than that. Once all 6 cups are in, turn speed to medium and let the dough mix for 6-8 minutes. The dough should be nice and elastic.
  • Once the dough is mixed, cover and let it rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.
  • Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray. After the dough has rested in the bowl, dump it onto the greased cookie sheet.
  • Take a sharp knife or bench scraper, spray it with non-stick spray, and cut dough into 3 equal pieces. Then let it rest again for 5 minutes. (These resting periods for the dough is needed, so please do it and be patient! It’s worth the wait )
  • To shape the dough before baking: Take one section of dough and spread it out into a rectangle. Just use your fingers, you don’t need a rolling pin. Fold one long end up over half of dough, then fold the other half over that one. Then fold each side up over each other, then turn the loaf over so it is seam side down.
  • Use your fingers to tuck seams down underneath the loaf and shape it. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough. Once all 3 sections of dough are shaped cut 3 angled 1/2 inch slits onto the tops of dough.
  • Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy. Spread the egg over the tops of each loaf, making sure to get inside the slits. Try not to get too much egg on your cookie sheet, this will cause the bread to stick.
  • Place the loaves into the oven and let them rise for about 15 minutes (while the oven is on 200 degrees F.) Mine took a little longer, as my house was cold. Then turn oven up to 400 degrees F (while the loaves are still inside) and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and crisp. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove the loaves from the baking sheet and allow them to cool a bit before slicing them
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    Recipe Source: Life In The Lofthouse

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