I got a new French-Bread pan for Christmas and used it Sunday to make two loaves of beautiful French Bread. I also made a big pot of homemade Spaghetti Sauce. What a feast! (Like we need to be feasting AT ALL with all of the Christmas goodies we've been stuffing ourselves with lately LOL?)
I made this dough the old fashioned way. I usually make dough in my bread machine but decided to stick to the basics and kneaded it myself. It was a little sticky to knead but I made it work and the bread itself was divine!
My new bread pan worked out great! I have tried using foil logs, spraying them with cooking spray and baking loaves of French bread on a cookie sheet wedged between the foil logs, but that never worked out just perfectly. This will work much better! I also love the little holes in the pan which crisps the bottom of the loaves.
We loved the thick slices, still slightly warm from the oven, buttered with our spaghetti! Mmmmm.
I plan on spreading leftover slices with garlic butter, sprinkling with a little mozzarella, and freezing flat for toasting to serve with batches of soup, stews, and pasta dishes. I learned all about that at the Hickery Holler Farm Blog also. She has great ideas for putting real food on the table.
Here's the pan I used and which you can find on Amazon HERE:
(Makes two loaves. Leftovers freeze beautifully.)
- 3 cups warm (hot but no hurt) water
- 1 Tablespoon Active yeast (1 packet) (not quick rise)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 7 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon milk
Measure water. Make sure it feels like very warm bath water (hot but no hurt). Add the yeast and stir gently to dissolve. Add sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Set a timer for 5 minutes while you mix the dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl:
Measure 3 cups of flour. Add the 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well.
After the timer goes off, the yeast/water/sugar mixture should be frothy like rootbeer. (If it is not, your yeast is not working.) The water might be cloudy and swirling and not super frothy but you should see some action in there if you got it right.
Stir gently the water/yeast/sugar mixture again and add to the flour/salt. Stir with a big spoon until mostly smooth. Continue adding 3 more cups flour and stirring until you cannot stir any longer. (Stir between adding each cup).
Add the remaining cup of flour and start working that in with your hands, kneading. If the dough is super sticky, add small bits of flour and knead in the bowl, folding the dough and pressing it to knead. Knead for 5 minutes. (I even moistened my hands with a little olive oil because my dough was so sticky but adding flour can make the bread too dense so try not to add any more than you have to.)
Cover the bowl with a warm/wet/squeezed out kitchen towel and let the dough rise for an hour or so in a place free of cool drafts. The dough should double in size.
Spray your pans with cooking spray, (gently) divide the dough in half and form into long loaves .
Brush the loaves with the milk/egg mixture (optional) for golden color.
Preheat the oven to 350 while the loaves are rising. They should rise about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees (fully preheated) for approximately 30-35 minutes. Let cool some before slicing. Slice with electric knife for the best looking slices.
Cool completely before bagging to avoid a build up of moisture in the bag.
Serve, eat or freeze for later use.
Ready for the oven!