Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maria Bakes Bread

I love this post for two reasons: 1.) all I had to do was post it and 2.) someone else makes attempts at yeast bread and it's not completely perfect (though much better than some of my recent attempts). Thanks, Maria, for another great post. The past few months have been hectic, but I've managed to make some yummy foods and snap a few pictures. I was craving homemade french bread so found this recipe online. As you'll see in the pictures, I'm not good at making the bread all the same size and shape (pshh, I think it looks fine/like a normal loaf of bread). I was also afraid my baking sheets were not big enough, so I made 4 loaves rather than 2. In my opinion, the bread was too yeasty tasting so suggestions are welcome.
French Loaf:
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon cornmeal (I didn't have this)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cupswarm water and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (didn't have this so I just stirred by hand). Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch dough down and divide in half (or quarters). Turn out onto alightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half (quarter) into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a longside. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4-inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until dough is baked through. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning (I didn't do this). Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.
Tastes best warm with butter!

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