I love homemade bread! There's nothing like it, warm and fresh from the oven. This past Sunday we had a dinner of pasta and a fresh green salad, so French bread was something I knew my family would love to go with it. I've bought lots of French breads from the bakery in my grocery store, but compared to what I can make at home, well, it just doesn't compare. I use my bread machine to make the dough and I finish up by using the method from my 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook to form it and bake it in the oven. The crust is nice and crusty and the inside is perfect. I've made this bread with both unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour.
French Bread (makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf)
9 1/2 ounces warm water (1 cup + 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add ingredients to your pan prescribed by your particular bread machine instructions. My bread machine calls for the liquid ingredients first. Load pan into bread machine and set on the dough setting, which will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
When the bread machine completes the dough cycle, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a large baking pan. Roll dough out into a 15-inch by 10-inch oblong shape. Roll up tightly toward you beginning with the wide side. Seal the edges by pinching together.
With a hand on each end, roll gently back and forth to lengthen the loaf and taper ends. Place it diagonally onto the baking sheet. Make 1/4-inch slashes in the dough at 2-inch intervals. Brush the top with cold water.* Let stand uncovered about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the bread with cold water again and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and brush again with the cold water and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake another 10 more minutes. Remove the bread from the oven one more time and brush again with the cold water. At this time you can sprinkle the bread with sesame or poppy seeds. Continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes until the bread is a nice golden brown.
*If you want your bread nice and crusty, make sure you brush the entire surface of the bread with the cold water every time. It will make a difference.
Go to Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for more inspiration in the kitchen!