Perfect French Bread

Submitted by fefferknits

This recipe makes up quickly and can be served plain, filled with meats/cheeses, or used later as garlic bread.

Ingredients

  • Bread:
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 2 T instant or bread machine yeast
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T table salt
  • 7-8 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-2 T water

Method

  1. Dump all bread ingredients in order into a bowl, starting with just 4 cups of flour, and mix.
  2. Add remaining flour slowly, checking for consistency. Dough is just right if it's starting to clean the bowl. When the bowl is fairly clean-ish, turn off mixer. Every 10 minutes for the next hour, turn on the mixer for 10 seconds.
  3. Divide dough to make 2 large-ish bakery-sized loaves, 3 medium, or 4 small. On a floured surface, roll out one piece of dough to about the length of your baking sheet. Width doesn't matter, but dough should be somewhat thin (1/4-1/2 in.), and you'll hear air pockets pop and squish as you roll. Then roll up loaf from long side, as you would for cinnamon rolls.
  4. Place rolled loaves seam-side down on a greased sheet. Brush with a egg wash, and make 5-7 diagonal slits on top of each loaf. Let rise 30 minutes while preheating oven to 400 degrees. Bake about 30 minutes, covering with foil if becoming too dark.

Cook's Notes

To fill with meats/cheeses (pizza ingredients are great), roll out dough and place fillings in a column down the center, lengthwise. Fold sides over fillings, creating a loaf that's folded into thirds.

For garlic bread, slice horizontally after baking and spread with garlic butter, or use your own blend of fresh ingredients. I like 4 minced garlic cloves, 3 T each chopped fresh parsley and oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper, all heated in a mix of 1/3 c olive oil and 2 T butter. Reheat foil-wrapped bread at 400 degrees; 15-20 minutes for purchased garlic spread, 10 minutes for freshly made.

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