This is a true comfort food for me, homemade french bread. It has a nice crust on the outside and a yummy soft center. This bread is perfect for sandwiches, toast with homemade jam and mascarpone cheese, and oh so good to eat fresh out of the oven.
My kids and my husband adore this and so I make it 2 -3 times a week. We don't even buy bread from the store anymore. Yes!!! It's THAT good and the easiest of all the breads I've tried thus far.
This recipe is from the KitchenAid® Mixer cookbook that comes standard with the machine when you buy it.
7 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water (115º )
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tbls. melted butter
1 tbls. salt
cornmeal for dusting
Large glass bowl
I use the KitchenAid Mixer with the dough hook attached.
Add all 7 cups of flour to the bowl then add your salt and then the yeast. Give that a quick turn with the dough hook and then pour the water over the dry mix and allow it to sit for about 5 - 10 minutes. This will activate the yeast. I heat the water up right in the pyrex measuring cup, using the microwave, and then test the temperature before adding it to bread. Because the water is added right to the flour and yeast mixture I tend to heat the water to 115º - 120º. If I was activating the yeast in water alone 110º - 115º is typically better. Then go ahead and add your melted butter and turn on the mixer and let it do it's job. The dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once that happens put the dough in a clean, large, glass, bowl coated with crisco spray and cover with saran wrap. Keep the bowl with the dough in a draft free space. I like to put it on my glass stove top and turn the warming burner on low. This ensures the yeast has a warm space to do its thing.
Allow the dough to rise for about an hour and a half.
Once it has doubled in size, dump it onto a floured surface, and cut it into two portions. Set one portion aside and roll the first portion out into a rectangular shape. Then go ahead and roll it up into a tight cylinder and pinch the ends to seal it and avoid having large air pockets in your bread. Do this again to the second portion of dough and then add both to a cornmeal dusted, rectangular shaped baking stone. Cover with a clean, lightweight dishcloth and put it right back in the draft free space. Allow it to rise another hour and a half. Once it has doubled in size take a sharp knife and slice 3 diagonals across each loaf. Go easy on the pressure. You don't want to deflate your dough. Put your loaves into a 450º oven and let it bake for 25 minutes.
To get that beautiful crust, beat up an egg white and a splash of water and brush your bread with the mixture and then pop it back in the hot oven for another 5 minutes. If you like a softer crust you can skip this step.
I like to put the same lightweight dishcloth over the warm bread for about 10 minutes. Then go ahead and remove it from your baking stone and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
You won't be disappointed with this bread. It's such a simple recipe with BIG taste and it is oh so versatile.
Let me know how you like it.