One of my dear friends recently was flying solo with three kids since her husband was out of town for ten days. I invited her and her kids over for dinner, assuming that she'd like a little adult interaction to break up the chaos, monotony, and overwhelming job of being alone with three kids for such a stretch. She gladly came over. I made this bread for them, and it was gobbled up in about three second flat. There was pretty much a showdown for the last piece. The kids had their knives out and were ready to defend their right to get the last slice of the greatly-desired bread. Luckily, no blood or tears were shed. It was a great dinner.
The next day, one of the kids that came over went up to my daughter and said, "You know, I learned two things about you last night. First, you get a little crazy when playing Mario Party. Second, you're mom crazy good at cooking." Knuckles for that, Sam!
I've tried many recipes for French bread, but this one takes the cake! It was so soft, and the texture was perfect.
When I make this, my son basically does a happy dance in the kitchen that looks more like a giraffe convulsing while on ice skates. How's that for mental imagery!
The Best Homemade French Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
2 1/4 c warm water
2 T sugar
1 T yeast
1 T salt
2 T oil
5 1/2 - 6 flour
Get the water temperature to about 100-110 degrees. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof (get all puffy).
Once the yeast is all puffy, pour it into your mixing bowl. Add the salt, oil, and 3 c flour. Use your hook attachment to mix well. Add in the remaining 2 1/2- 3 c of flour. Start with just 2 1/2 cups. The dough should pull together and come off the sides but not be too sticky. Add a little more flour at a time, as needed.
Do not remove the bowl or the hook attachment. Leave it there for 10 minutes. Turn on the mixer for 10 seconds to knock the dough back down. Do that for the total of five times. It'll take about an hour.
Divide the dough into two sections Roll each into a 9 x 13 rectangle. Roll them up like you would with cinnamon rolls. Pinch each edge to seal.
Sprinkle some cornmeal onto a cookie sheet. Place each roll of dough onto the cookie sheet, seam side down.
Cut three gashes into the tops of the loaves.
Let these rise for 30 minutes. Then, brush the top of each loaf with an egg wash (1 egg and 1 T water mixed well).
Bake in a 375 oven for 30 minutes.
Let it cool for a few minutes, slice, and slather some butter on that bad boy. It'll blow your mind!