French bread is a favorite dinner bread. Its famous crust is made by baking the loaves at 400 degrees F for the first 5 minutes and then misting the loaves with water. The oven temperature is then dropped to 350 degrees F and the bread bakes for another 25 minutes. The result is a bread that everyone will love.
- 2 cups water (95 to 110 degrees F)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 1/2 cups bread flour (about)
- 1 egg white
- Garnish: Sesame or poppy seeds
- In large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir until dissolved. Mix in flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough out onto floured board and knead it for about 8 minutes. Put dough in greased bowl and flip dough over so that the dough top is also lightly greased. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour or until double in size.
- Punch down dough. Give dough a quick 2-minute knead. Divide dough into 2 equal halves. Shape each half into a long loaf. Place loaves onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make about 5 diagonal slits, 3/4 inch deep, into the top of each loaf. Cover loaves and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.
- Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Brush loaves with egg white and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from oven and use mister to spray the tops of loaves with cold water. Turn oven down to 350 degrees F and bake breads for another 25 minutes or until done. Remove loaves from baking sheet and let cool on rack.
Bread Baking Tips:
Keep yeast stored in an airtight container and in the refrigerator. Heat, moisture, and air kills the yeast and prevents bread dough from rising
Store flour properly to keep it from spoiling.
Bread flour has a higher amount of gluten than all-purpose flour. This means that bread made with bread flour will rise higher than bread made with all-purpose flour. You can make your own bread flour by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons gluten to each cup of all-purpose flour you use in your bread recipe.
Add a cup of raisins or dried cranberries to the bread dough for extra sweetness.
Brush loaves with egg white before baking to produce a shiny crust.
Brush loaves with milk before baking to produce a dark, shiny crust.