Easy French Bread
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Easy French Bread

This recipe makes one loaf of French bread or enough to feed about 4 people at dinner.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Cookie Madness

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups bread or all-purpose flour I always weigh out 6 1/2 oz
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 scant teaspoon salt You can use less if desired
  • 3/4 teaspoon fast rising yeast instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup hot water from the tap or heat and let cool to 125 degrees
  • Olive oil for bowl
  • Egg white or a mixture of beaten white and yolk mixed with water for brushing

Instructions

  • Weigh the flour and put it in the stand mixer bowl (I put the mixing bowl right on the scale, set the tare to zero, and add 6.5 oz of flour). Stir in the sugar, salt and yeast, then add enough water (1/2 cup should be just right) to form a cohesive but not too dry dough.
  • Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and begin kneading the dough. It should leave the side of the bowl as it kneads.
  • Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Mine is usually done in 8 minutes if using the stand mixer and 3 if using the processor. If using the processor, pause every 40 seconds to make sure dough is not getting too warm from the friction of the processor.
  • Transfer the smooth ball to an oiled bowl and roll the dough around so it's coated with oil. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  • Punch down the dough. At this point it should be fairly easy to work with and theoretically you should be able to shape it directly on a parchment lined baking sheet and not have to use flour. If it's really sticky for some reason, go ahead and shape it on a floured surface.
  • Shape it into a 12 inch log. Taper the ends a bit if you want.
  • Cover or tent (I prefer to tent) with a little greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes or so. This might take less time if the room is very warm.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make several small slashes in the dough to allow steam to escape. Sometimes I skip this step if the dough has already developed a crack during rising.
  • If desired, brush the dough with some egg white for a crisp crust or a mixture of white and yolk for less crispness and more brownness. If making the "Everything" version, sprinkle the toppings over the egg-brushed loaf.
  • Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. Let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before you slice it.

Notes

"Everything French Bread". Sometimes I top the bread with a mixture of dried garlic, dried onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and salt -- same as you'd get on an "Everything Bagel". There's no specific ratio, but this blend works for me: 2 teaspoons minced dried garlic, 1 teaspoon dried minced onion, 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, 4 teaspoons of water (more if needed) and a sprinkling of sea salt. Mix all the ingredients except sea salt and water. Add water and let sit for about 10 minutes to hydrate the garlic and onions (this prevents them from drying out as the bread bakes). Spread over the risen dough and bake as directed.