Today I have to get my life back together. I spent almost a week in Las Vegas for a work conference, and as part of the event staff I worked extra long days, so my feet and the rest of my body are still screaming. The day after I flew home, Andrew and I spent the day at California Adventure, which was SO FUN…but not for my feet. A week away means I have a lot to catch up on for work, the blog and at home. OK, now, let’s talk about bread!
I have wanted to make my own bread for the longest time, and I’m so glad that I did. Fresh bread is seriously the best, and it’s even better when I make it myself. Of the two loaves I made, I cut one of them the moment it came out of the oven and slathered it in butter. It was PERFECT.
Later that night, I served some to Andrew with soup and (I think) he was pretty amazed. There’s no doubt that making bread can be a fairly long process, especially if you’re not very accustomed to the process, but it’s totally worth the work. I’m not sure I will ever buy french bread again…because mine is better. Plus, it’s easy despite the time it takes to complete. I always worry when working with yeast because I feel like I’m not kneading it enough or I’m kneading it too much and you just never know how you’re doing until you bake it. The nice thing with this bread recipe is it’s pretty foolproof as long as you follow directions and allow the dough ample time to rise.
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (approx. 110F)
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Once preheated, turn OFF the heat. The keeps the oven warm for the dough to rise.
In one bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Gradually stir in the warm water (test the temperature with thermometer to ensure it’s right around 110F) and stir until a dough forms. At this point, it should feel similar to playdough – springy and not very sticky.
If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes (If not, knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes). Shape into a ball and lightly coat in olive oil and return to a metal or glass oven-safe bowl. Cover bowl tightly with foil and place bowl in the warm oven until doubled in volume, 30-40 minutes. Putting it in the oven speeds up the rising process.
Punch dough down (super fun!) and divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, cover the dough again and let rest for about 15 minutes. Press each piece of dough into a large rectangular and roll it up from the long side to make a loaf. Moisten the edge with water so that it sticks, and place the loaves seam side down.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and sprinkle with flour. Place the loaves several inches apart on the parchment and cut several shallow diagonal slits on top of the dough and brush on the egg/water mixture. Cover once more with either cling wrap or foil so that it is loose. Let sit in a warm place until the loaves double in size again, about 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has finished rising, bake the bread for 15 minutes. Remove, brush with the egg wash and bake again for about 15 minutes until the edges and tops of the bread are beginning to brown and the tops are stiff.
Let cool for several minutes before cutting and serve warm alongside a cup of soup or with a big spread of butter. You won’t ever want to buy French bread again! Enjoy!