One of my New Year's goals is to become a better baker.
I love to make cakes and pies, but I feel like I really need to expand my comfort zone into pastries, breads, etc...
I think that I actually fear baking a little bit.
Don't ask me why???
But I guess that when I'm in the kitchen I have this insane notion that everything has to be perfect.
Well, everything that I make is not perfect, but I guess it's a confidence issue.
So, I decided that I'm going to get over it!
(I'm going to throw it away if it is bad--gasp!!)
So my first recipe that I thought I would try to conquer with this new baking goal
would be french bread.
And, I guess to get it just right that I will just have to sacrifice myself and try it over and over again.
So after many recipes trials I found a really good one.
It's very easy and almost impossible to mess up.
Believe me, if anyone can mess it up, it would be me.
That's why I named this post French Bread 101.
Doesn't it look delicious.
Crusty french bread with a perfectly soft middle.
(adapted from fine cooking)
2 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
2 packages yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
7 cups flour, added one cup at a time
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
In a small bowl add the warm water and yeast. Mix until well blended and dissolved. Use a wooden spoon to mix. (Make sure that the water is not too hot; hot water will kill the yeast.) Let the yeast/water mixture sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, salt, and oil to the mixture. Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the flour one cup at a time. Mix until the dough is soft, but tacky and springs back when touched. It should look a little bit "shaggy".
Lightly flour your surface to knead the dough and knead for 2-3 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the dough is doubled in size.
(I usually heat my oven to 170 degrees and turn off when ready and keep open with a spoon.)
Once the dough is doubled, punch down and place on a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into 2 large pieces, or 3 smaller pieces. Roll the dough into loaves (the size you want).
Sprinkle two baking sheets with cornmeal and place the loaves on each sheet. Make diagonal slash marks across the top of each. Beat the egg white and water in a small bowl and brush onto each loaf.
Place the loaves in the oven and turn on, heating to 375 degrees. Once the oven reaches 375 degrees bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm and enjoy!!
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