So I think I am doing quite well at cutting back on my carbs/sugar/white flour intake these past couple of weeks of the new year, but I’m not a robot, and I just can’t turn it off – the want…..no, the need, for good bread, is in my blood.
Here’s the thing, I’m never going to tell someone that white bread is good for you, or that I think it’s healthy, but it’s one of life’s little pleasures and I think it’s ok to indulge now and then, within reason. And, this is homemade. This is where everything for me becomes so much more reasonable. I have made this bread myself, with only 5 ingredients (one being water) so I know that it’s already a million times better than anything I could buy in a store. Which gives me permission to eat twice as much. You cannot try to change my mind about that.
This simple french bread recipe has been modified to become my own and I tell you, it is better than store bought. You can’t even compare actually. It’s not the tough, rustic baguette type, it’s a soft and fluffy one that is slightly chewy, but still light and airy. It’s my signature french bread to go along with so many meals, and so many more to come.
2 cups of warm water at 110 – 115 degrees in temperature
1 package dry active yeast (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons sugar
5 cups of flour, plus more for flouring work surface as needed
2 teaspoons salt
1 eggwhite & teaspoon of water – whisked together
(Sprinkle of sea salt on top of loaves before baking, if desired)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and sugar with the warm water. Stir to dissolve and let it stand for about 10 minutes to let it froth.
After 10 minutes, add in 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add in an additional 2 cups of flour along with the salt. Combine. You should have a sticky dough that is coming together.
Flour your work surface and hands very well and turn out your dough onto your counter. Begin to knead and add the final cup of flour as you work it in with your hands. Your dough should start to firm up and knead well without sticking to your hands. Continue to add flour to the dough / work surface as needed. Knead for 8-10 minutes. Cover your dough with a light kitchen towel for about 20 minutes to let it rest.
Return dough to a floured work surface and cut in 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a long rectangle, then roll into a cylinder and pinch the seams closed on the under side and round and pinch the ends underneath. About 16-18 inches in length (end to end on a baking sheet). Place both loaves onto a baking sheet, cover with a light kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make cuts on the top of the loaf if desired, brush eggwhite/water mix on top of each loaf with a pastry brush, sprinkle on sea salt if desired. Bake in your preheated 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Here’s how it turns out:
I put my yeast and sugar in my mixing bowl and added the warm water, and stirred to dissolve.
10 minutes later it should froth up and look a bit like this.
Add in 2 cups of flour and stir to combine.
Then another 2 cups of flour and the salt. Combine. You should have a sticky dough that is coming together nicely.
Flour your work surface and your hands really well and turn this dough out. From here, start adding your last cup of flour into the dough a little at a time as you begin to work it with your hands and knead it. It should start to firm up and not be sticky after the 5th cup of flour is all incorporated. Continue to add more flour to your counter and dough if you find it’s still too sticky to knead without sticking to your hands. Knead this for about 8-10 minutes.
After about 10 minutes, it should look about like this.
Wrap it gently in a light kitchen towel for 20 minutes. It needs a breather from having the tar beat out of it for 10 minutes straight.
It won’t have a chance to rise, but it will have taken a deep breath and smoothed out for you a little more as it puffed up ever so slightly.
Drop it back onto a floured work surface and then wildly cut it in half, in two equal parts to show it you mean business.
Shape each piece out into a sort of long rectangle.
Then roll it up into a long cylinder and press/pinch the bottom seam together.
Place it on a baking sheet, seam side down and pinch and round each end underneath. Both loaves should fit nicely onto a large baking sheet. They should be 16-18 inches long. Cover these with a light kitchen towel and let them rise for 45 minutes.
They will about double in size.
Then take your eggwhite/water wash and using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tops. I also like to sprinkle on a little sea salt at this point, but totally optional. You can also cut slits across the top of the bread, for decorative purposes, with a sharp knife or bread lame if you have one. (If you don’t have a bread lame/dough score and want to try with a sharp knife, make sure it is VERY sharp. Otherwise you will just end up pulling on your dough and stretching it without actually cutting it). Throw these into your 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.
My loaves were perfectly golden at 18 minutes, in my oven. I suggest checking at that point and seeing if you want them darker/crustier. Gorgeous!
But the real test is always the inside, right? When you cut it up, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest.
You really get that beautifully soft, ‘white bread feel’ that is light and airy, and when you press on it, it jumps right back at you.
This is probably one of my top three breads ever. It doesn’t really take that much effort or time and the result is fantastic. It’s better than your average store bought loaf, it’s homemade by you – for your family, and your house will smell like a bakery for a few hours. That’s a lot of winning all at the same time.
– The Homesteaders Wife