I grew up on home-made bread and when I was six or seven my mom & my aunt teamed up to teach five little girls how to make bread. Admittedly, as an adult I have not ever made a loaf of bread. However I still have the giant-sized recipe card with my seven-year-old penmanship scrawling out the instructions. I need to frame that, I think.
My first attempt at French Bread was scary, to say the least. The dough was extra dense and the loaf was incredibly flat. But Round II brought lovely results, and I think I’ve got a few tips to share that will help you make amazing bread the first time around.
Easy French Bread
Preheat oven to 400′
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups unsifted flour
1 egg, beaten
Mix sugar and yeast in water until dissolved–let this sit for a few minutes until it’s nice and fermenty. Then stir in salt, oil, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix together. Add remaining flour and mix well. Knead by hand to form a soft, but not sticky dough. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then punch down to get all the air bubbles out. Do this rest-and-punch routine a total of three times.
Turn dough onto floured surface, pat into a 9′ x 12′ rectangle. Roll up like a jelly roll and tuck in the ends, pinch closed. Set loaf on parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife make a criss-cross or diagonal slice markings on the top of the loaf. Let loaf rise about 45 minutes, or until double in size. Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack.
**You can easily double this recipe and make two loaves, you will divide into two, equal sized balls of dough right before patting out into a 9′ x 12′ rectangle.**