Here is the French Bread recipe we love, from the Betty Crocker cookbook.
Prep: 25 minutes; Proof: 3 hours; Bake: 30 minutes
Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices each
3 to 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package regular of quick active dry yeast
1 c. very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg white
1 Tbsp. cold water
Poppy seed or sesame seed
1. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
2. Place dough in greased bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until double. Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening; sprinkle with cornmeal.
4. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half into a rectangle, 15x8 inches, on lightly floured surface. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
5. Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until double.
6. Heat oven to 375. Mix egg white and 1 Tbsp. cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Ok, now for a few things I do differently: (just to simplify)
- I put all of the ingredients listed in step one into the Kitchen Aid mixer using the paddle attachment, just mix together. Then switch to the dough hook for adding the rest of the flour and this also takes care of the kneading.
- I do not grease the cookie sheet or the bowl the dough is rising in. I just mix the dough in the mixer bowl and place a plate over the top to let it rise.
- I do not use the egg wash or sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.