Breads / Recipes

Old-Fashioned French Bread

Did you know that there was a time before Ipods, and cell phones, and computers?! You did? Ah…okay, well then you may be excused from any further reading. WAIT!!! I take it back! Stay and read. Please?! Okay, so back to the point. To live in the South there are just a few social standards that you must abide by. These were made up by our mother’s mother’s mother…back before social networking made real social festivities uncool. And just because I love you…I have compiled a list guaranteed to ensure a successful navigation of these social traditions!

  1. Never show up to a party empty-handed. Oklahomans like their casseroles. And if you can’t make a casserole…well…you can always be the designated ice guy. Side note: I am the designated dessert and bread girl. Those are my two talents.
  2. In the event of a sick person, always volunteer to bring them soup, medicine, or both.
  3. Keep the greeting card business alive and well. Adam Sandler did it…so can you, ya poor schlub!
  4. Offer up your house. Now I know this sounds like a crazy rule. But when you have a friend from out of town and the drive will deprive them of their sleep, it is your duty to offer up your guest bedroom. After all…that is what the room was intended for anyways! Unless they are a crazy person..then just say “bless his heart” and move on about your day.
  5. When someone offers you something, give them something in return!

Today we start with rule #5! So here is the deal: My friend, Matt, and his wife have one ridiculously awesome garden. They can things all summer long. I unfortunately am the proud owner of a garden where plants go to die. So one day Matt offers up an ungodly amount of homegrown tomatoes fresh off the vine and just for me! So in keeping with tradition, I offered him and his wife some homemade bread (because that seems like one of my better talents). His response?? Well it may not be appropriate for the blog, but just know that him and his wife were terribly excited!

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So first thing first…you must dissolve your yeast and sugar in hot water. Hint: If in ten minutes your yeast concoction doesn’t foam…I  think it is safe to say you will have bread-sticks and not bread loaves!

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Add half of your dry ingredients and stir together with a spatula. Because trying to combine it with a whisk will never ever work. Trust me!

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See look at that! Look how sticky and delicious that looks! Okay so it looks like mod-podge right now. But you know a whisk could never manage that. And besides you don’t want to overwork your bread dough!

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Add the rest of your flour and ahh…take a big ‘ole whiff. Now it looks like real dough. I’ve mentioned there isn’t anything I love more than bread, right?

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Obviously we abandoned the idea of a bread-machine a couple of steps back. I like old-fashioned bread…partially cause when I knead I feel important. So In this step…we knead! And then you have daydreams about being a 1960s housewife but then you dismiss that idea because you realize you’re too much of a trouble maker to be a housewife. But at least I have some housewife-like qualities!

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Here is the silly tips and tricks portion of the post. I find that by sprinkling cornmeal on the bottom of my cooking pan it makes the bottom of the bread get nice and crunchy…plus it looks more professional. And it only took me upteen-thousand tries to figure out how to evenly disperse the cornmeal. Using your hands…big no no! You will have clumps of corneal crustiness and regions of naked bread! Soooo…use something with a fine mesh to sprinkle it on the tray!

Yeah…I know. It shouldn’t have taken me upteen-thousand tries to figure that one out. But i’m blonde. Forgive me.

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If you read the cinnamon roll post, then fortunately for you, you’ve had good practice with the roll-and-tuck maneuver! Simply split your dough in halves. Roll one half out into a large rectangle, start with the edge furthest from you and make a nice tight roll.

Then transfer these to your cooking pan and tuck the outer layer over the ends so to make nice purty bread heels (the ends of the bread that everyone avoids when they buy a loaf at the store)! But trust me…bread heels on this will change your life!

Cut three diagonal slashes to help vent the bread, cover with plastic wrap and let rise! Then bake!

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Aren’t they just wonderful!! It almost makes a gal want to tear up! I mean look at that beautiful golden brown color! (Tip: you will only get that if you lather on an egg white-water mixture).

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I know the bread cuts best when its cooled…but a hot slab of bread with a layer of butter!! Yup….there was no way I was missing that. A burnt tongue is just a small price to pay and it is worth it! But because you are giving a loaf to your friends, make a “Do Not Disturb” sign for his loaf and pray that taste-tester won’t cut into it!

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And then when you drop it off to your friend the next morning, play a game of “hide the bread” with your girlfriends while Matt is in the bathroom. And then try to keep a straight face. Apparently…Me and my girlfriends need to work on our straight faces. Matt instantaneously knew who hid his bread….or maybe he just comes to expect these things from us now? I told you I was too much of a trouble maker to be a 1960s housewife!

Old-Fashioned French Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Add sugar and yeast to a bowl. Stir in hot water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add salt, oil, and half of the flour to the yeast mixture. Mix until incorporated
  3. Add remaining flour and pour out dough onto counter.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Knead dough for 15-20 seconds and allow dough to rest 10 minutes and then repeat until dough is elastic.
  6. Cut dough in half and working with one half at a time, roll into a 9×13 rectangle.
  7. Roll up the dough starting with the far end and rolling toward you. Try  to keep the roll tight.
  8. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet with the seam side down.
  9. Tuck the ends under the top layer so not to see the spiral. Squeeze the seams of the end shut so it won’t open up during baking.
  10. Slice 3 gashes (about 1/2 inch deep) in a diagonal onto each loaf.  Cover with cling wrap sprayed with non-stick spray so dough will not stick. Let rise 30 minutes.
  11. Separate egg white from yolk. Combine egg white with 1 tsp water and spread over tops of bread for a golden-brown color.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees or until bread is golden brown.
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