A week or so ago, I came upon a recipe for "Easy French Bread" in my More-with-Less Cookbook.
I can't give the Mennonite folks who put this cook book together enough praise for their concern for our health, environment and world food needs. All of their recipes are simple, presented with nutrition in mind, and darn good tasting.
Back to the French bread recipe, it did indeed look easy and since it was well into the afternoon before I got around to starting some bread, I decided to give it a try.
EASY FRENCH BREAD
2 pkgs. (2 tablespoons) dry yeast in
1/2 cup warm (approx. 120 degrees) water with
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups boiling water
Cool to lukewarm and then add yeast mixture.
7-1/2 to 8 cups unbleached white flour
(7 cups was all I could get mixed in.)
Knead 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once. Let rise until doubled (I let it rise for one hour.) Punch down and let rest on counter (I covered with a cloth) for 15 minutes.
Divide dough in half. On floured surface, roll each half to a 12" x 15" rectangle. Roll up tightly, starting at the 15" edge.
Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet and make 4 or 5 slashes diagonally across the tops. Let rise until doubled in size. (Again, I let the loaves rise for one hour.)
Mix and brush over loaves:
1 whole egg, beaten with
2 tablespoons milk
Sprinkle over top:
Poppy or sesame seeds
Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.
The two loaves were the biggest and nicest looking loaves of French bread I've ever made. (The knife shown in the picture is a full 12" long for comparison.)
Was the bread tasty? It sure was! Although, I have to honestly admit that this was the end of only half of one of those giant loaves, and Chicken Mama stopped in just in time to help us with the sampling.
I was so enthused about this recipe that the next day I made it again, but used a combination of 4 cups of spelt flour and 3 cups of white.
This time I divided the dough into three portions and made one round loaf, one long loaf and spread the rolled out rectangle of the third portion of dough with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and pecans.
The cinnamon bread was heavier than a regular cinnamon bread made with all white flour would be but still made a very tasty sweet bread that we enjoyed toasted with several breakfasts.
Papa Pea, who isn't fond of "white" bread, commented that if he was limited to only one kind of bread (which he's not, lucky-ducky that he is), the recipe made with the spelt flour would satisfy him.
All in all, this turned out to be a really good bread and I'm looking forward to playing with some other variations to the basic recipe.
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