I have always loved to bake. I mean who doesn’t, right? Pies, cakes, cookies, brownies – you can’t go wrong with any of it. When it comes to baking, I’ll try just about anything. But I must confess, I have always been a little afraid of working with yeast. It always seemed too complicated. So I avoided any recipe that called for it. It was kind of a bummer though, because I love to eat bread. And nothing is better than fresh baked bread.
As a part of my New Year’s resolutions, I promised myself I would try new things. Making bread became my something new in January. With a little coaxing from my mom, I dug our brand new breadmaker out of the garage (a wedding present from 4 years ago) and tried making bread for the first time ever. For those of you who own a breadmaker, you know it takes absolutely no skill to make bread this way. But I really enjoyed it anyway. I was proud of myself for attempting something new. But I still didn’t feel brave enough to try making bread from scratch by hand.
I had expressed my apprehension to my sister-in-law. She is a wonderful cook and a fabulous baker. She told me that she had the same reservations regarding yeast that I did. It made me feel a little more normal. That’s when she told me about her French bread recipe. She said it was incredibly easy to make. And it made two huge loaves of bread. I had tried her bread before, and it was delicious. So in the spirit of trying new things, I decided to make her French bread recipe. I figured it would be disastrous, but what the heck! So I tried. Believe it or not, it turned out really good. I even surprised myself.
Over the past few months, I have made that recipe almost every week. The bread is that good. Plus, my husband eats it so quickly, it only lasts for a few days. So I feel like I’m becoming an expert. As a matter of fact, I have made a few other recipes that call for yeast since then.
Now to my point. I know that a lot of you feel the same way I did about yeast. But don’t let that hold you back. It’s not nearly as hard as you think. And just so you can begin with something easy – I’m sharing this French bread recipe. I think you’ll love it!
- 2 ¼ c. warm water
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 5 ½ -6 cups flour-stirred before measured
Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let this proof—or sit for a few minutes until it bubbles. Then add salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and beat well. Add in 2 1/2 -3 more cups of flour. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too stick – but be careful not to add too much flour. Knead for a few minutes.
Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes and then stir it down (turn on your mixer for 10 seconds) and then allow to rest another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times.
Then turn dough onto a floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into a 9×13 rectangle. Roll dough up, starting from long edge of loaf to seal.
Arrange seam side down on large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal, allowing room for both loaves. Repeat with second part of dough.
With a sharp knife, cut 3 gashes at an angle on the top of each. Cover lightly; allow to rise 30 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then remove to wire rack to cool completely.