On Sunday afternoon, I decided to make French bread for our dinner party. Since I was already baking this dessert, I figured, why not add some fresh baked bread to the meal!
Here is the recipe, adapted from this source:
KitchenAid Stand Mixer French Bread
2 packages active yeast
2 1/2 cups of hot, but not scalding, water
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of melted butter
7 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of corn meal
Stick of butter
Stand mixer--while there are many recipes out there for french bread you make by hand, this recipe is especially designed for stand mixer since it does all the kneeding for you. I am sure it could be adapted for use without a stand mixer
Rinse mixing bowl with warm water to warm up the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pat dry. Add yeast and hot water. Mix by hand until combined. Place mixing bowl on Stand mixer. Add melted butter, flour and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on speed 2 for 1 minute or until well blended. Continue on speed 2 for an additional two minutes. Turn contents of bowl into a glass bowl greased with butter. Cover with towel and place in a warm place free of draft for one hour.
For a warm, draft-free place (especially in the winter) I usually use my oven. Turn the oven to 350 for 2 minutes to warm it and then turn it off. Place the dough mixture inside. Also take care to lower the oven racks so you don't burn a hole through or set your towel on fire once it's in there!
Once an hour has elapsed, remove from oven (or other warm place) and punch mixture down. It should have doubled in size over this time. Remove from bowl and divide into two equal pieces. With a small amount of flour to prevent sticking, roll out each piece to approximately 12 inches by 16 inches. Starting from the longest end, roll up tightly into a long baguette roll. Shape the ends into tapers if desired. Place on a cookie sheet that has been dusted with the cornmeal. Repeat with other half. Cover and return to warmed oven (again warm for 2 minutes) and let rise for an hour.
Remove from oven. The baguettes should have again risen over the second hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut four slits across the top of the loafs.
Cook bread for 25 minutes, then remove from oven. Run a stick of butter over the tops of the bread and return to oven for five more minutes of cooking. Remove from oven. Serve hot or cold with your favorite dishes.
There is a lot of down time during this process and this time I used to clean the house and soak our stove's drip plates which had, sadly, lots of caked on food on them from all the cooking we have been doing as of late. While I was baking, it occurred to me I should have cleaned the oven too because it got a little smoky and our very sensitive fire alarms went off. I opened the kitchen window to stop the incessant beeping and when I turned around, I found this.
Apparently Woods enjoy an open window no matter what the size!
Happy baking and happy Christmas Eve everyone!