Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Quick and Easy Homemade French Bread

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We planned on having Chris' 30th birthday celebration with my family the Sunday after I took Chris out in the city to celebrate, but of course those plans were nixed due to an ice storm. Chris had requested his favorite Italian meal for his birthday dinner (my mom's Eggplant Parmesan plus spaghetti with her marinara sauce and meatballs), so I think he was a little disappointed that our dinner was postponed. Luckily for him, everything was already prepared when we went to go pick up Bradley, so my mom packaged up some pasta and sauce to hold him over until the rescheduled birthday date.
It's pretty common knowledge that you can't have pasta and marinara sauce without warm, crusty bread, but since there was an ice storm going on outside neither of us wanted to venture out to the store. My solution? Making some quick homemade bread. This only took an hour max (including rising and baking times) and the result was a crusty, hearty bread that was perfect for sopping up all the extra sauce. I even used the leftovers to make amazing bread pudding (recipe coming soon). Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for oiling the bowl
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. water
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add warm water. Sprinkle with yeast and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until yeast starts to bubble on top. Then add the sugar and let sit for an additional minute.

With the mixer on low, stir in the salt and 3 tbsp. olive oil. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Allow to mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until it pulls away from the bowl.

Grease a glass bowl with a little extra olive oil. Add dough ball to bowl and drizzle a little extra oil on top. Cover the bowl with a warm wet towel.

Meanwhile, put a bowl of water in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl of water from the microwave and place the bowl with the bread bowl in the warm microwave (NOT turned on) for 15 minutes to allow to rise. (Putting the dough in the warm microwave environment makes the dough rise a lot faster!)

While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

After the dough has risen, divide the dough into two long loaves (rolling like a jelly roll and tucking in the ends). Place both loaves side by side, at least 3 inches apart, on the prepared cookie sheet. 

Take a knife and slash the tops of each loaf diagonally. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water. Brush the egg wash evenly over the top of each loaf.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Source: Adapted from Keep Home Simple

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