Lately I have gotten more into making bread, I love breads that are more simple to make but are amazing in texture and taste. I have made a few simple Artisan breads, but this recipe right here is one that I make every few weeks and replaces me having to buy French bread in the store. I love the chewy exterior but it is soft and like a pillow inside. Seriously it's amazing and not complicated to make, it involves a bread machine and a rolling pin.
This recipe is found in a cook book I have had for a few years call "The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook" by Jennie Shapter. There are so many amazing recipes in it and it has a few different conversions depending on where in the world you live. It has simple instructions and a few pictures to demonstrate.
I use this French bread to make our sub sandwiches, garlic bread, French Onion soup, bread for dips and bruchetta. It's just a very useful versatile recipe!
So here you go!
French Bread (Makes 2 Loaves)
1 1/3 Cups of Water
4 Cups of Bread Flour (I use all purpose and it works fine as well)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Instant Yeast
Add the water to the bread machine pan. Sprinkle the flour over the water. Add the salt in a corner. Make an indent in the centre of the flour and add the yeast. Use the French dough/Artisan dough setting, or French bread setting, and press start.
When the dough cycle has finished, remove the dough from the machine, place on a lightly floured surface and knock it back (punch it down). Divide it into two equal portions.
On a floured surface shape each piece of dough into a ball, then roll out to a rectangle measuring 8 by 3 inches. Fold one third up lengthways and one third down, then press and roll out again to the 8 by 3 inch length. Repeat twice more leaving the dough to rest between foldings to avoid tearing.
Gently roll and stretch each piece to a 11-13 inch loaf, depending on whether you aim to make smaller or larger loaves.
Place each loaf in between the folds of a floured and pleated dishtowel, so that the French bread shape is maintained during rising.
Cover lightly with oiled clear plastic wrap and a dishtowel and leave in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 450F.
Roll the loaves on to a baking sheet, spaced well a part. Slash the tops with a knife.
Place at the top of the oven, spray the inside of the oven with water and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Sometimes you need to pinch the dough to keep it closed when rolling it out so that it doesn't burst open when cooking. I pinch the fold that will face downwards during cooking to maintain a nicer shape.
If you want a chewier crust spray the oven two or three times with water.
If you don't have a bread machine I am sure you could make the dough in a Kitchen Aid just follow the instructions for French dough.
This makes such a beautiful gift as well during the holidays, if you wrap it up in some nice cellophane and have a jar of pesto, hot pepper jelly or even antipasto beside it. I gave a few away last year as gifts and I know the recipients said it was a nice break from all the sweets.
I know you will enjoy this as much as we do!
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